Skip to main content

Full text of "Believing and doing : sermons"

See other formats


Believing and Doing. 



jr. 



33g the same Author. 



LIVING FOR THE MASTER. 

SERMONS. By Lewis H. Reid. 
i2mo. Cloth. $1.25. 

" The author has followed the example of the 
good householder, and brought forth from his treas- 
ure things new and old, and has placed them before 
the public in a very inviting form. . . . The selection 
is in every respect most judicious, and has been 
given to the world solely with the intention of in- 
ducing thoughtful men, by their perusal, to walk more 
closely with God, and to bring them into nearer and 
more personal touch with the Master. He has 
endeavored, and as a rule most successfully, to steer 
clear of every moot point in theology, and to address 
the heart rather than the head." — Churchman. 

" The book is of a kind good to have at hand, — 
excellent for home reading when prevented from 
going to church. Selections might be made from 
these sermons to excellent advantage for reading in 
public worship where there is no minister. They 
are every way adapted to promote ' living for the 
Master.' " — Pacific. 

" Full of illustration that 'comes home ' to con- 
science and heart." — Presbyterian Journal. 



Believing and Doing, 



SERMONS 

BY 

LEWIS H. R E I D. 




NEW YORK: 
ANSON D. F. RANDOLPH AND COMPANY, 
38 West Twenty-Third Street. 
1889. 




Copyright, 1839, 
By Anson D. F. Randolph and Company. 



SSntbcrsttjj press: 
John Wilson and Son, Cambridge. 

LC Control Number 




tmp96 029064 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

I. Acquaintance with God n 

II. Secret Faults 23 

III. Strength equal to our Days 37 

IV. Early Piety 49 

V. The Destruction of Babylon 61 

VI. After the Rain 75 

VII. The Mountains 87 

VIII. The Pharisee and the Publican .... 103 

IX. Your Sin will find you out 117 

X. Saul made King 131 

XI. Shaking Hands 145 

XII. Belief without seen Evidence 159 

XIII. Giving systematically 175 

XIV. What of the Night ? 185 

XV. What doest thou here, Elijah? .... 197 

XVI. A Little While 211 

XVII. The Mother of Zebedee's Children . . 223 



vi CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

XVIII. Young Men strong 239 

XIX. Family Religion 251 

XX. The Ark in the House 265 

XXI. Gideon's Three Hundred 279 

XXII. Life's Changes 293 

XXIII. All Things for Good 307 

XXIV. Ruth's Choice 321 

XXV. Created unto Good Works 335 



INTRODUCTION. 



These Sermons, like those of the preceding volume, 
— 11 Living for the Master," — are selected with ref- 
erence to their adaptation for general use. They are 
short, simple, and practical, and they present no 
views but such as are held by believers generally, in 
the different branches of the Church of Christ. As 
such they will be found suitable for private reading, 
or convenient for public use in the absence of a 
pastor. 

The writer takes pleasure in dedicating this volume 
to former parishioners and other friends. 

L. H. R. 



ACQUAINTANCE WITH GOD. 



We may have evidence of God's being and character, without 
comprehending His plans. The present state is a fragment of 
an immense scheme. That there is a moral sphere, in which 
man lives and moves and has his being, is as obvious as that 
there is a material sphere. Life has a meaning, and it may have 
a beauty and a destiny worthy of that divine tuition by v/hich it 
is in training for an immortal sphere. To recognize the existence 
and laws of the moral system, is the obligation by which reason 
is bound. 

Ezra H. Gillett. 



I. 



ACQUAINTANCE WITH GOD. 



Acquaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace : thereby good 
shall come unto thee. — Job xxii. 21. 

*nr*HAT was good advice. Job was in trouble ; it 



-1- was not because he did not know God, — he 
knew Him better than his friends knew Him ; but 
they thought his trouble came from not knowing God, 
and so they gave him this counsel. Sometimes men 
give advice that they do not follow themselves. We 
dislike to take medicine ; but if we see one that needs 
it, we are not backward in suggesting remedies. 

Good for Eliphaz ! The advice was sound, — "Ac- 
quaint thyself with God." Nothing could be better. 
But friends do not always counsel alike. One will say, 
"I would do so and so, — see such a person, or use 
such a remedy." Another will say, " You had better 
do this or that." But a little while before, Zophar, an- 
other friend, had spoken of the knowledge of God as 
impossible, — "high as heaven; what canst thou do? 
deeper than hell ; what canst thou know ? " But if 
God could not be known absolutely, He might be in 
part ; so that there was no real contradiction here. 
We shall never know God perfectly, for then we should 
need to be equally as great as He ; but we may follow 
on to know Him, and be growing more and more into 




12 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



resemblance to and acquaintance with Him. There 
are degrees of knowledge and fellowship among men. 
" Are you acquainted with Mr. So-and-so? " " Some- 
what," you say, or " I know him well." What knowl- 
edge have you of God ? Alas that it is so small ! 
Perhaps you are not on speaking terms with God. 
Do you speak His name, — not in profanity, but rev- 
erence ? Do you go to Him and talk with Him, and 
tell Him how you feel and what you want ? Are you 
on speaking terms with God ? Or is He like some 
stranger whom you know well enough on the street : 
you know his name, and where he lives, and something 
about his character and business ; but you never walked 
with him, never talked with him, said "Good morning," 
took his hand, or counted him your friend. 

The Temanite's advice was good for Job ; and it is 
good for all : " Acquaint now thyself with Him, and be 
at peace : thereby good shall come unto thee." 

There are many ways of becoming acquainted with 
God. If I wished to get acquainted with some person 
whose friendship I valued, I might ask another to in- 
troduce me, or I might come in contact with him in 
business, or some casual circumstance might throw us 
together. Our first knowledge of God comes to us 
through the outer world. Every sense is a medium 
of introduction. So we study human character. I 
know a man by his works. A piece of mechanism, fine 
or bungling, tells me what the man is. A fine piece 
of statuary or a life-breathing painting shows the 
artist's skill. I judge of character by the handwriting. 
A letter may be all I wish to see or know of a man. 
A little Christmas gift wrought by loving ringers may 



ACQUAINTANCE WITH GOD. 



13 



reveal the thought and quality of a friendly heart. So 
God speaks to us through His works. Under the 
choir of St. Paul's Cathedral the distinguished archi- 
tect, Sir Christopher Wren, is buried, who designed that 
famous structure as well as other remarkable build- 
ings. On the monument over his tomb is a Latin 
inscription closing with the words : Lector, si monu- 
mentum qitceris, circumspice, — " Reader, dost thou 
seek his monument ? Look around." In God's great 
temple we stand, and see the evidences of His handi- 
work in all the things around. From Nature we can- 
not help rising up to Nature's God. The commonest 
shrub by the wayside speaks of God ; the tiniest 
flower reveals a world of beauty; the physical frame 
evidences wonderful power and wisdom ; the micro- 
scope sends us down into a realm of organized exis- 
tence. " The heavens declare the glory of God ; and 
the firmament showeth His handiwork." The eye 
sees, the ear hears, the hand touches nothing that does 
not speak of God. 

We also become acquainted with God through the 
soul of man. Man was made in the image of God. 
Nothing else bears this likeness : you see the Father in 
the child. The temple of Nature is to be destroyed 
by fire ; the material heavens shall be rolled together 
as a scroll : but that which constitutes ourselves shall 
survive " the wreck of matter and the crush of worlds." 
The soul is immortal ; its own consciousness, its na- 
ture and longings, proclaim this. Reason and experi- 
ence demand this. Heathen philosophy certifies, and 
the Being who made and endowed the soul affirms, 
that it is to live forever. The human intellect with its 



14 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



grand powers speaks of God. The inward monitor, 
conscience, is deity speaking within us. To converse 
with ourselves is in some sense to converse with 
God. We cannot know ourselves, know our hearts, 
know our powers, without knowing God. 

God is known also through His providences. Not 
a sparrow falls without our Father, and the hairs of 
our head are all numbered. I believe in special prov- 
idences ; it is in these that we can very manifestly 
hear our Father's voice and feel the pressure of His 
hand. History abounds with remarkable instances 
of an overruling Power. The destiny of nations has 
been determined by the slightest causes. It is com- 
mon to speak of Rome as saved by the cackling of 
geese. The Scotch thistle is said to have become the 
national emblem because a thistle once pierced a sol- 
dier's foot and gave timely warning of the approaching 
foe. The Covenanters were confident of God's presence 
with them in the snow-barriers that He raised and 
the cloud-mists that He sent in immediate answer to 
prayer. Poetry confesses to a special providence when 
it says : " There is a divinity that shapes our ends." 
We do not understand how this control is exercised, or 
this shaping done ; and yet we cannot doubt the fact. 
I knew of a lady who made all her arrangements to 
sail in the ill-fated " Ville du Havre," but at the last 
moment changed her plan and was saved. On the 
contrary, the daughter of the late Rev. Dr. Goertner 
intended to leave in another vessel, but at the last 
moment, for the sake of being with friends, changed 
her arrangements, took the vessel named, and with her 
two children perished. 



ACQUAINTANCE WITH GOD. 



1 5 



We cannot explain these things now ; but it is not 
Chance or Fate. There are those who say that God 
has nothing to do with the affairs of men ; then it is a 
sorry world in which we live. We may wish to push 
God away, and not know Him ; but He seems to com- 
pel us to know Him by coming near and passing be- 
fore us in marked events. It is one thing to deny 
providences, and another to explain providences. Men 
who attempt to explain providences may be wrong, 
but it does not follow that there are no providences, or 
that God has nothing to do with events that we call 
such. 

Again, God may be known through His word. This 
is the second volume of His communication with man, 
— Nature first, and Revelation next. What Nature 
does not teach, the Bible does. If a letter tells us what 
a friend is, the Bible tells us what God is. The com- 
mand to acquaint ourselves with God, is a command to 
read the Bible. I believe those know most of God who 
read their Bibles most. This is the grand text-book ; 
there are others, but this is better than any that I have 
yet mentioned. The Psalmist writes : " Thou hast mag- 
nified Thy word above all Thy name." There is a 
glory in the heavens and in the earth, but a greater 
glory emanates from this blessed Book. Here is where 
you shall see God and know Him and hear His voice ; 
in these lines He speaks to you. I like to see the 
worn Bible, the tear-stained page ; the little Testament 
that a mother's prayers have hallowed, the Bible that 
the young man treasures and reads and makes the man 
of his counsel and the guide of his life, and that shows 
by its handling that it is much used. Do not neglect 



i6 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



your Bible ; search the Scriptures daily ; read this 
Book often and much, if you wish to know God. The 
Sabbath-school might properly be styled the Bible- 
school. It is by the study of the Bible that we are 
trying to make our scholars, young or old, acquainted 
with their Maker, — God. 

Another method of becoming acquainted with God is 
through His Son Jesus Christ. This perhaps is the 
best method, or is the method. We sing of God as 

" Known through the earth by thousands signs, 
By thousand through the skies ; " 

but the Gospel scheme is a grand mirror which ex- 
hibits the perfect God : — 

" Here the whole Deity is known ; 
Nor dares a creature guess 
Which of the glories brightest shone, 
The justice or the grace." 

It is God whom we see in the face of Jesus Christ, 
who is declared to be " the brightness of His glory, 
and the express image of His person." He is as if 
an exact image or photograph of the Father. He is 
more than this. There is such a oneness that seeing 
and knowing Him is seeing and" knowing God. He 
says, " No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me. 
If ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father 
also : and from henceforth ye know Him, and have 
seen Him. . . . He that hath seen Me hath seen the 
Father." " I and My Father are one." If God then 
seem distant from us ; if we feel an awe that keeps us 
from approaching Him ; if we dare not venture on a 



! 



ACQUAINTANCE WITH GOD. 



17 



familiarity such as we enjoy with some loved friend, 
— then we may come into intimacy with God in the 
humanity of His Son. It was partly for this reason 
that God veiled Himself in humanity, that He might 
press us closer to His paternal bosom. The Sweden- 
borgian knows no God but Christ. The God-man sup- 
plies his idea of deity. Acquaint thyself with Him ; 
become the intimate and friend of the Lord Jesus 
Christ ; study His life ; be baptized into His Spirit ; 
walk in His footsteps. Come and live in His family ; 
enroll yourself among His visible followers. The best 
way to know a man is to live in his home and sit at his 
board. Jesus invites you to the intimacies of His 
table ; He is willing to be your friend, and He desires 
to know you. Will you keep yourself outside the cir- 
cle of His loved ones, and be of those who know Him 
not, and to whom at last He shall say, " I never knew 
you"? In the prayer to the Father just before the 
betrayal, Jesus said: " And this is life eternal, that 
they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus 
Christ, whom Thou hast sent." Do not turn away, 
then, from this historic Jesus, for it is by and through 
Him that we know and come to God. 

Still another method of knowing God is by His 
Spirit. " The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep 
things of God." " The Spirit takes of the things of 
Christ and shows them unto us." You need the Di- 
vine Spirit as a teacher and help. The Holy Com- 
forter is sent to teach you all things and to make you 
know God. You are dependent, but you must be will- 
ing to learn. Ask the Spirit to be your helper and 
guide. Think of a child sitting down to a new study, 

2 



1 



i8 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



opening a difficult book, and not being willing to have 
teacher or help ! You will make no headway, you 
will never know God, if you do not seek the Spirit's 
help. 

We must not forget that there are special reasons 
or inducements for knowing God ; these are brought 
to view in the second part of the text. " Acquaint 
now thyself with Him, and be at peace: thereby good 
shall come unto thee." See, peace is spoken of. Rec- 
onciliation with God brings peace. "Therefore being 
justified by faith, we have peace with God through our 
Lord Jesus Christ." You have no peace till you know 
God. Your weary, aching heart cannot rest till it rests 
in God. You may be soothed temporarily, but the 
sure condition of peace comes only in a loving knowl- 
edge of God. Secular learning does not give peace ; 
philosophy has no antidote for the world's ills ; friend- 
ship cannot dispel troubles ; pleasure and riches and 
fame give no true rest. The soul yearns for its Maker, 
and it finds its cravings met only when they are met in 
God. Says a popular writer : " Faith draws the poi- 
son from every grief, takes the sting from every loss, 
and quenches the fire of every pain ; and only faith can 
do it. Wisdom, science, power, learning, — all these are 
as blind and impotent before the great problem of life 
as ignorance and weakness. The feeblest girl, believ- 
ing in God and a hereafter, is an archangel by the side 
of the strongest man who questions her simple faith, 
and mounts on wings where he stumbles in doubt and 
distress or sinks in darkness." 

This is the peace that faith furnishes ; this is the 
peace that comes from the knowledge of God. " Ac- 



ACQUAINTANCE WITH GOD. 



I 9 



quaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace : there- 
by good shall come unto thee." 

What that good is, Eliphaz explains thus : " If thou 
return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou 
shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles. Then 
shalt thou lay up gold as dust, and the gold of Ophir 
as the stones of the brooks. Yea, the Almighty shall 
be thy defence, and thou shalt have plenty of silver. 
For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, 
and shalt lift up thy face unto God. Thou shalt make 
thy prayer unto Him, and He shall hear thee, and thou 
shalt pay thy vows. Thou shalt also decree a thing, 
and it shall be established unto thee : and the light 
shall shine upon thy ways." That is equivalent to 
saying : " Make God your friend, and you shall not 
want any good. You shall attain the highest pros- 
perity. Your mind will be enlarged with noble pur- 
poses, and your soul be filled with all the fulness 
of God. Selfishness bedwarfs ; worldiness fetters : 
knowledge of God shall make you a true man. Your 
moral nature will be purified and quickened. You 
shall be at peace with God, with the world, and with 
yourself. You shall have a quiet conscience ; you 
shall have divine supports in trouble ; you shall have 
blessed hopes ; you shall triumph in death ; you shall 
have part in the resurrection of the just. You shall 
stand with conquerors ; you shall sing with the re- 
deemed ! " Oh, what a mockery is language when it 
attempts to describe the blessedness of the man who 
knows God ! Here, then, I stand commissioned to 
urge and bring you to God, — asked to make you know 
Him, to introduce you to Him, to impress you with the 



20 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



desirableness of having Him for your friend. " Tell 
them," I hear the Great Being saying, " of Me and My 
home. Show them that I am not hard or exacting, 
revengeful or stern. Emphasize the loving elements 
of My character, and make them know that I will take 
them to My bosom, if they will repent and return. 
Tell them that there is bread enough and to spare, and 
that My love reaches to every penitent heart, and is 
greater than human sinfulness and need." Oh that 
some of you might be persuaded even now to know 
and love this sin-pardoning God ! My dear friend, 
troubled perhaps in your soul, dissatisfied with your 
present condition, asking, " What must I do ? " — 
"Acquaint now thyself with God, and be at peace." 
Observe, — " now ! " " acquaint now ! " Perhaps you 
are a father, with children waiting to have you know 
God, that they may know Him too : come, bring your 
little ones ; give them to God, and become yourself a 
child with them in the Christian household. Perhaps 
you are a young person needing a helping hand and 
superior wisdom : come, grasp this Hand that is offered 
you, and accept Almighty love and aid. Here is a 
duty that confronts you ; here is a good to be secured. 
Delay no longer, but in humility and contrition say : 
" Lord, I give myself to Thee ; own me as Thine." 
Waiting will not make you better, or give you 
strength. It is due your Maker and Redeemer, due 
yourself, due your children if you are a parent, due 
your friends and companions, whatever may be your 
age, that you should now become an open and recog- 
nized disciple of the Lord Jesus. 



SECRET FAULTS. 



It is not easy for a man to know himself. Death, says Seneca, 
falls heavy upon him who is too much known to others, and too 
little to himself; and Pontanus, a man celebrated among the early 
restorers of literature, thought the study of our own hearts of so 
much importance that he recommended it from his tomb. 

Samuel Johnson. 



II. 



SECRET FAULTS. 



Cleanse Thou me froin secret faults. — Psalm xix. 12. 
LL men are sinners. " If we say that we have 



Jl\ no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is 
not in us." Good men sin. It is David who offers 
the prayer of the text, — "Cleanse Thou me." 

There are sins of omission and of commission ; sins 
of thought, of word, and of deed. We may sin against 
God and against man ; against our neighbor, our 
family, and ourselves. The law of God is so compre- 
hensive, our hearts are so deceitful, and the occasions 
are so numerous that lead us into sin, that even those 
who make the most effort to lead a holy life may suit- 
ably ask, " Who can understand his errors ? " 

It is to a particular class of faults that I wish to call 
your attention, — " secret faults." By " secret " faults 
is not meant faults which we keep concealed from 
others, secret as our private affairs are secret, but 
secret in the sense that they are hidden or concealed 
from ourselves. Then there are sins of error, inadver- 
tence, or infirmity, into which we readily fall. That we 
do commit sins that are unknown to ourselves, is true. 
We probably commit sins every day of which we take 
no note, and with no consciousness of wrong-doing; yet 




24 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



they are sins. It was from these hidden errors that 
the psalmist desired to be cleansed. Sins of ignorance 
are frequently mentioned in the Scriptures. And what 
is a sin of ignorance but a sin of which the person 
committing it was not conscious at the time ? Still it 
is a sin, for the one who committed it might and ought 
to have known better. His conscience should have 
been better enlightened, or he should have waited 
longer before acting. Under the Levitical law provi- 
sion was made for those who sinned inadvertently or 
unwittingly, a simple sacrifice sufficing in this case ; 
while the same offence, if committed knowingly and 
presumptuously, subjected the offender to excommuni- 
cation and death. The language is used, " If a soul 
shall sin through ignorance," — indicating that it is 
still sin, though committed in ignorance. The Saviour 
makes a distinction between the disobedient servant 
that knew his lord's will, and the one that did not 
know it. The latter received " few " stripes. Yet he 
received stripes, — he was punished. His neglect or 
omission was wrong, though originating in ignorance. 
The fact of his ignorance could not exculpate him. 
He "knew not," yet he sinned. Christ offered the 
mitigating plea, " For they know not what they do." 
Paul speaks of what he did ignorantly in unbelief. 
He persecuted the Church of God, and not only 
thought that he was doing right, but was doing God 
service. His wrong act he regarded not only as right, 
but as commendable ; but afterwards he saw it to be 
sinful, and so spoke of it. " When the commandment 
came, sin revived." Now, I say that there may be 
states of mind or acts which we commit which we 



SECRET FAULTS. 



25 



think to be right, or give but little attention to, that 
are sinful. We may sin inadvertently ; we may trans- 
gress when we do not know it ; we may have " secret 
faults " from which we should earnestly pray to be 
cleansed. Let me now classify and enumerate. 

1. The sins of a false education. — The heathen 
mother used to lead her little child, as soon as it could 
walk, into the presence of a dumb idol ; and pressing 
the child's hands together in a reverent attitude, and 
pushing its head forward, compelled it to do obeisance 
to that senseless idol. The child could hardly walk 
alone before it was thus instructed ; and if it were at 
all refractory, it received cuffs and blows, till it learned 
to act the part of a devout worshipper. Or that 
mother, under the false instruction she had received, 
tore the babe from her bosom and threw it into the 
sacred river. There was no feeling of regret at her 
act ; very likely there was a feeling of satisfaction. 
And when her husband died, she went forth, in accord- 
ance with what she had been taught and believed to be 
duty, and laid herself on the funeral-pile. All these 
acts she believed to be right; she believed idolatry to 
be right, for she was so taught in her childhood. She 
imparted the same instruction to her children, and 
made idolaters of them; or she cast them into the 
Ganges, or submitted to a voluntary death herself, 
under the same terrible and false impressions. In all 
these acts she sinned, yet she did not know it. Now, 
may not a false education lead us into sin ? May not 
conscience be so overladen or perverted that it shall 
not become a safe guide, and deeds be committed that 
we may call right that are nevertheless wrong ? The 



26 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



Spartans taught their children that it was right to 
steal, and a greater offence to be caught in the act 
than to commit the crime. People differ at the pres- 
ent day with regard to many social habits and cus- 
toms. What some consider right, others consider 
wrong. But if theatres, cards, dancing, and wine are 
not right, or are abused, those persons who consider 
them right err, and their error belongs to the class of 
secret faults. Whereas if a thing is right, and one 
does it, questioning whether it is right, he sins, for 
"He that doubteth is condemned." 

It is quite possible that we may say and do things 
which God looks upon as wrong, but which we judge 
to be right simply because parents, teachers, or others 

— those whose influence we have felt and are feeling 

— have taught us so. That we have been educated 
to believe that a certain thing is right, does not make 
it so. We must be sure that the instruction is right, 
or that the principles are right, before we can assume 
that the acts under them are right. 

2. Sins of prejudice. — Men assume that they are 
right, and condemn others, thinking the bitterness of 
their feelings justifiable, because it is a supposed 
wrong that they are condemning. But perhaps the 
wrong is with themselves. Or, even admitting that 
another is at fault, they may be more at fault in in- 
dulging a vindictive spirit towards him. We may pur- 
sue evil and attempt to remove it in a bad spirit, and 
think that because the end is good the act is right. 
Bigots and persecutors have always been willing to 
justify themselves on the plea that it was a good end 
that they were seeking. They assume that truth and 



SECRET FAULTS. 



27 



right are with them, and then go forth to kill and de- 
stroy. Paul's sin of ignorance was a sin of prejudice. 
He was honest in thinking the Jewish religion right, 
and the Christian wrong ; and hence concluded that he 
was justified in opposing the new faith. 

The sin of the Jews was a sin of prejudice. They 
assumed that they were right, and were ready to in- 
voke a curse on their own heads if they were not. 
They sinned ignorantly, but their ignorance resolved 
itself into bigotry and hate. 

How many appalling spectacles does the history of 
the past reveal ! How many martyrs and confessors 
have laid down their lives for the truth ! But those 
who persecuted them did this under the impression or 
plea that they were subserving a good cause, that the 
best interests of the Church and of the State required 
this. Some, no doubt, deluded and prejudiced, were 
honest in their convictions. Persons often condemn 
in others that which they are guilty of themselves. 
" Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that 
thing which he alloweth." Criticism and denunciation 
are uttered, when he who speaks may be most at fault. 
The lines of Burns are apposite : — 

" Oh wad some power the giftie gie us, 
To see oursels as others see us ! 
It wad frae monie a blunder free us, 
An' foolish notion." 

"To see ourselves as others see us," is to see ourselves 
as we are ; in other words, it is to see our faults, our 
errors, foibles, failings, which are now secret, because 
hidden from our own view. 



28 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



3. Sins of custom. — "Everybody does it," is a plea 
that quiets many a conscience and justifies many an 
act. It is with many not so much, "What is right or 
wrong ? " but " What do others think and do ? " If 
public sentiment justifies certain practices, we are likely 
to fall into them without many scruples or much delay. 
We assume that a thing is right because it is so com- 
mon ; we extenuate an act by saying, " Why, it is done 
everywhere, and by all." There are many things that 
are practised in matters of trade that, to one uniniti- 
ated, seem questionable, but when it is found that all 
do so, or that many do so, are assumed to be right. 
In many speculating operations, whether of stocks or 
produce, in rates of interest received or given, and in- 
deed in all commercial transactions, there are methods 
and practices that are recognized as legitimate, and 
that with certain modifications may be legitimate, and 
yet that are in many cases positively wrong. The sub- 
ject of usury is full of perplexity. Money has a differ- 
ent value at different times, and to one in straightened 
circumstances may be worth twice as much as when 
he is less in need. How is it possible, then, to fix a 
positive value to it by law, and why are the rates of 
interest so different in different States ? It is manifest 
that custom rather than conscience sometimes becomes 
the standard of law. We see the same thing in social 
life. People are expected to pass compliments, to in- 
dulge in flattery, and to do many insincere things, 
"for everybody does so." You would be singular, 
strange, if you did not, in speech, dress, and behavior, 
do as others do. Even falsehood comes to be regarded 
as truth, and a lie is justified on the plea that it is 



SECRET FAULTS. 29 

well understood. "Not at home" means "not to be 
seen ; " and " I am glad to see you," must be taken 
in a general way. 

4. Sins of habit. — Sin has a hardening influence. 
The more familiar we become with it, the less odious 
does it appear. " We first endure, then pity, then em- 
brace." What was once offensive becomes agreeable ; 
what was once wrong seems right. At least we may 
sin so often, and the habit become so fixed, that we 
shall sin without knowing it. Do you suppose that the 
profane swearer takes note of the oaths that he utters ? 
Once the awful imprecation startled him ; he spoke 
God's name with hesitancy and fear. But now in 
sport and in wrath, with terrible frequency, God's name 
is profaned. If you should attempt to check him, he 
perhaps would express surprise, apologize, and say that 
he did not mean to use such language. So in regard 
to intoxicating liquors. The person who sells or uses 
them may question at first whether it is right to do so ; 
but when, by and by, the conscience is seared and the 
habit is fixed, there is but little sense of sin. So in 
regard to other fleshly indulgences. The debasement 
and debauchery of the " community " system, the pro- 
miscuous marriages of the Mormons, are a proof of 
the ease with which people come to justify outrageous 
acts of wrong. Again, fits of anger may be so often 
indulged in as to fail at length of awaking remorse or 
shame. A person from his very habit of sinning may 
conclude that he has a right to sin. He is angry so 
often that he does not know that he is angry, or thinks 
that he has a right to be angry ; or he is peevish, and 
speaks in an ill-natured tone so constantly that he does 



30 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



not know how unmusical his voice is. Or some other 
disposition of mind is fixed upon him. He is jealous, 
or envious, or penurious, or thoughtless and heedless, 
and in the very exercise of these qualities never sus- 
pects that he is doing wrong. The fact that that is 
his nature, and that he has done so so many times, 
seems to be a reason or excuse with him why he should 
do so again. 

5. Lastly, acts committed in ignorance of a positive 
statute. — A person may transgress unwittingly. I may 
visit an art gallery, or walk in a public park, and dis- 
regard some regulation unconsciously and uninten- 
tionally. I may remove to another country, with the 
laws and customs of which I am not familiar, and make 
myself amenable when I had no thought of doing 
wrong. In the Life of Washington Irving we have 
an account of his committing a trivial offence of this 
kind while residing in Saxony. The legal penalty for 
the act was a fine of twenty dollars and forfeiture. 
He was in Dresden, and having borrowed a pistol, and 
finding that it was loaded, opened the window and dis- 
charged the weapon into the open air. Though having 
previously been presented to the King and Queen, and 
known to be a man of letters, and sinning ignorantly, he 
nevertheless was arrested, underwent a trial, and was 
fined to the amount of a few dollars and costs. A few 
evenings after, he was a guest at the palace, the King 
good-naturedly joking him about breaking the law. It is 
easy to see that transgressions may often be committed 
when the letter of the statute is not known. Paul 
seems to have corrected himself when he said, in re- 
ply to the charge, " Revilest thou God's high priest ? " 



SECRET FAULTS. 



3.1 



"I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: 
for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler 
of thy people." The specifications and requirements 
of the ' Levitical Code were so exact and numerous 
that it was not to be wondered at if a conscientious 
Jew sometimes unwittingly transgressed. It was right, 
therefore, that the possibility of such transgression 
should be recognized in words like these, "If a soul 
shall sin through ignorance against any of the com- 
mandments of the Lord concerning things which ought 
not to be done," and that a sin-offering should be in- 
dicated and accepted in such a case. The transgres- 
sions of the heathen are those that are committed 
against unwritten law. They cannot be said to tram-, 
pie on the blood of Christ if they never heard of Him. 
Their offence consists in not obeying the " law in their 
mind." There is little for us to plead in this direction ; 
and yet, when we remember that the law is exceeding 
broad, that it relates to a man's inmost thoughts, as 
well as all his outer life, we can see that we may 
often transgress the spirit of a commandment when 
we do not know it. 

Now, let me recall the points presented. Secret 
faults, or those which we do not notice in ourselves, 
are those which we may commit (i) through a false 
education. We may be taught to believe that things 
are right which are not. (2) Prejudice may lead us to 
justify ourselves in acts that are wrong. (3) Custom, 
common law, what everybody does, may ease the con- 
science and establish precedents that truth, if listened 
to, must condemn. (4) Habit makes sin so familiar 
that the enormity of it is not seen ; and (5) ignorance 



32 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



of the written statute may lead us to transgress unwit- 
tingly. 

Now, let me remark: i. We see that we may be 
more wicked than we think that we are ! Our secret 
faults, our unknown sins, who can count or name 
them? It is enough to have such a catalogue of posi- 
tive transgressions charged against us. But here is 
a ledger account with which the record that we have 
kept bears no comparison. To one sin noticed, there 
have been a score not noticed ! Oh, how often have we 
sinned when we gave it no thought, or did not know it ! 
Even of known sin it is impossible to estimate the con- 
sequences or to compute the guilt, for these reach 
into eternity ; how, then, can we measure or gauge 
guilt that is unknown ? 

2. How singular is the prayer of the text ! We pray 
to be cleansed from faults that we do not know our- 
selves, — from errors, delinquencies, and failings that 
our wives or husbands, our children, our servants, or 
our clerks see, but which we do not see ! More than 
all, God sees them, — He knows them, and can cancel 
and remove them. It is not necessary that we should 
know all our faults, or designate them by name, be- ' 
fore we can ask forgiveness. Here is a comprehen- 
sive prayer, and we may offer it. The dying thief 
simply said, " Lord, remember me," and it was enough. 
The spirit of penitence is that which includes all sin. 
At the same time we are to guard against presuming 
on general prayers. Self-searching is enjoined. If we 
have right feelings, we shall be desirous to know the 
worst of our case. This leads to humility, special 
watchfulness, and striving against sin. 



SECRET FAULTS. 



33 



3. Finally, how wonderful the grace of God, that can 
reach down and under all that a man is and does, and 
take him, with all his sins, known and unknown, and lift 
him to a higher plane, effect in him a double cure, 
cleanse him from the guilt and power of sin, and make 
him a child of God and an heir of glory ! His condi- 
tion here is one of repentings and tears ; but he shall 
by and by walk with those in white, and become a 
pillar in the temple of his God. 

Be it ours to avail ourselves of this grace ! Let us 
seek to know the worst of our case, search our hearts, 
and lift the cry, " Cleanse Thou me from secret faults. 
Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins ; 
let them not have dominion over me : then shall I 
be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great 
transgression." 



3 



STRENGTH EQUAL TO OUR DAYS. 



Dr. Doddridge was one day walking, much depressed, his 
very heart desolate within him. " But," says he, " passing a cot- 
tage door open, I happened at that moment to hear a child read- 
ing, ' As thy days, so shall thy strength be.' The effect on my 
mind was indescribable ; it was like life from the dead." 

William Jay. 



III. 



STRENGTH EQUAL TO OUR DAYS. 

And as thy days, so shall thy strength be. — Deut. xxxiii. 25. 

HOW much we think of the blessing of a dying 
parent ! We would go a long way to get such 
a blessing ; and when the words are spoken, how ten- 
derly we cherish them ! 

Jacob blessed his twelve sons as he lay upon his 
dying bed in Egypt. One of these sons was Asher, 
whom Zilpah, Leah's maid, bore to Jacob. Jacob's 
blessing was this : " Out of Asher his bread shall be 
fat, and he shall yield royal dainties." That is sup- 
posed to mean that the descendants of Asher should 
occupy a rich country, furnishing plenty for themselves 
and others. Asher means " happy," or " blessed." At 
his birth " Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will 
call me blessed ; and she called his name Asher, " — 
" Blessed." Somehow, in olden times, parents some- 
times gave names that were prophetic of destiny. We 
speak of children that are born to fortune : that was 
the case with Asher. He obtained his father Jacob's 
blessing, and from Asher sprang a great tribe in 
Egypt. When Moses led the children of Israel out 
of Egypt, which was two hundred years after Jacob 
died, the tribe of Asher had increased to fifty-three 



38 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



thousand four hundred men above twenty years old, 
besides women and children. When they reached the 
land of Canaan, and the country was parcelled out to 
the several tribes, — as good fortune would have it, we 
might say, though there was a providence in it fulfill- 
ing Jacob's prediction, — the people of the tribe of 
Asher were settled along the sea-board, in a part of 
the country specially fruitful in grain, wine, oil, and 
minerals. 

Moses led the Israelites only to the borders of 
Canaan, he was not allowed to enter and see the 
people settle in it. He now is about to die, and 
another blessing is to be pronounced upon Asher. 
Moses assembles the people, as his last act before he 
goes up to Mount Nebo, and this is his dying bless- 
ing upon Asher. " Let Asher be blessed with chil- 
dren ; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let 
him dip his foot in oil. Thy shoes shall be iron and 
brass ; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be." I 
have brought these two blessings of Jacob and Moses 
together, though they were two hundred years apart, 
that you might see how closely they tally. Jacob 
blessed his sons ; Moses blessed the tribes descended 
from those sons. The blessing of Moses is fivefold. 
First, there is the blessing of numbers. " Let Asher 
be blessed with children." Children are a blessing, 
not a burden. " Let him be acceptable to his breth- 
ren." It is a great thing to please others, to live in 
peace with those around us. " Let him dip his foot in 
oil; " that is, " Let him have such plenty that he may 
not only anoint his head with oil, but walk or wade 
in it for abundance." " Thy shoes shall be iron and 



STRENGTH EQUAL TO OUR DAYS. 



39 



brass." Some think that this means that the land 
should be full of minerals, — as it was ; the people 
literally walking over hidden treasures. Others think 
that the expression, "Thy shoes shall be iron and 
brass," was proverbial, indicating a preparation of the 
feet to travel in rough roads, or to climb slippery 
places. " And as thy days, so shall thy strength be." 
That was the cap-sheaf ; that crowns' all. Blessed 
words ! How they do come down to us over the 
centuries, to comfort our hearts to-day ! If spoken to 
Asher, they are meant also for us. The promises to 
the fathers include the children ; and so we read with 
personal application to ourselves : " As thy days, so 
shall thy strength be." 

Days of darkness are appointed to every one. Each 
year comes to us listed with its days of rain as well 
as its days of sunshine. We cannot tell what days are 
to be dark, but we surely know that some will be. If 
we knew beforehand, we might plan our circumstances 
to meet these changes, dropping out the dark days 
from our life-calendar. Our journeys, excursions, visits, 
weddings, would all be arranged for the days that 
shine. But we have to move forward into the future, 
not knowing what the morrow will bring, and yet con- 
fident that between us and the future lie many dark 
days. It is just as absurd to expect that life shall 
witness no days of tear-shedding as to expect that the 
sky shall never gather blackness or send down rain. 
At the same time weeping does not come to all alike ; 
the times and the occasions are different. As over 
one tract of country a heavy cloud may hang, and 
copious showers descend, while perhaps on the dis- 



40 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



tant mountain-top you can see the sun shining ; so on 
some hearts griefs may be sitting, while on other 
hearts close by, joys may yet beam. Nor can any 
modern prophet forecast the moral climatic changes 
by which it shall be known where or on whom the storm 
of sorrow is soon to fall. As all lands, with the varia- 
tions and alternations, get their fair proportion of rain 
and sunshine, so all hearts get their just amount of joy 
and pain. There is not so great a difference in the 
lots of men as we sometimes think. When it comes 
to the real issue, there is scarcely a person with whom 
we would be willing to change places. We would like 
to select from another's circumstances ; but if we must 
take his infirmities, his griefs, his cares and troubles, 
we are content to remain as we are. 

Nor are dark days without their uses. We shudder 
at them, and yet they may be among the most valu- 
able portions of our life. One of Dr. Bushnell's re- 
markable discourses was on " The moral uses of dark 
things." If Nature could do best with one undarkened 
sky and never-setting sun, the clouds would never 
gather, and the night never come. But the sky's 
tears have value, and the stilly night rests vegetation 
for the drawing and unfolding influence of another 
day. It would be a pity if there were no tears and 
heart-aches, no pensive moments, no days when the 
soul, lone and dreary, hears only the dropping on the 
roof and the patter on the window-pane. The disci- 
pline of sorrow is soul-refining ; the whole man grows 
best under the alternations of sun and rain. I have 
no doubt, when we reach heaven, that we shall be 
almost ready to reverse our estimates. What we now 



S TRENG TH EQUAL TO OUR DA YS. 



41 



call good, we shall then esteem lightly or see was 
harmful ; and what we now call evil, we shall then see 
was sent in love and wisdom, and brought higher gain. 
We certainly are misjudging creatures, and very far 
at present from calling things by their right names. 
A friend writing to me concerning a great sorrow, 
said : " That nearly killed me. Oh, how I suffered ! 
Now I look back, and think how unwise I was, am glad 
that it happened, and feel that God was leading me all 
the way." Good old Jacob said : " Joseph is not, and 
Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away : all 
these things are against me." And yet the providences 
were conspiring that were to bring him to see his chil- 
dren and fill his soul with joy. Joseph said to his 
brethren: "As for you, ye thought evil against me; 
but God meant it unto good." He contrasted the 
anguish of his soul, and his unheard entreaties, when 
his brethren thrust him into the pit, with the power 
and greatness to which that path of suffering had led. 
It is a common saying, " The way of the cross is the 
way of light." Darkness correlates the day. 

" Out of my stony griefs Bethel I '11 raise." 

Moreover, others may be benefited by the woes that 
we feel. The child sees the tear in the mother's eye, 
and does not know its cause, but is subdued into a ten- 
der and loving frame of mind. The cloud-shadow may 
be the best for the rearing of these young plants. The 
father sees his business destroyed, his fortune gone, 
and is utterly cast down ; but that was simply an 
overruling providence to keep his children from prodi- 
gality and ruin. So, then, if Providence gave us the 



42 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



arrangement of our lives, and put us in charge of the 
moral weather-currents, I doubt whether we should 
be willing to strike out one dark day from the calen- 
dar, or to avert one painful experience of rain and 
storm. 

But while sorrows belong to us, and have their uses, 
there is much in the way of evil that we make for our- 
selves. We throw a roof over our heads that hides the 
sun, or we go down into the cellar and call it dark ; in 
other words, we imagine and forebode evil, we fancy 
ills, and shudder in view of that which never happens. 
There is much borrowing of trouble in this world. We 
have not enough in the present, and so we draw on the 
future. We cross bridges before we come to them, 
and when we reach the point where we thought they 
were, they are not there. We know that rainy days 
are in store for us, and so we raise the umbrella before 
the rain falls. I once had a little niece, who is now 
with the angels. She lived near a river, and but a 
short distance from a bridge where the river was 
crossed. It was in the spring of the year, and ice- 
gorges were frequent. There was danger that this 
bridge would be carried away, and the matter was 
much talked about. The child heard some things that 
were said, and was greatly exercised on account of 
them. After she had retired at night, her mother 
heard her sobbing, and inquired, "What is it, Louise?" 
The child replied, " I am afraid the bridge will go off." 
"Oh, no!" said her mother, " there is no danger; the 
ice has gone down the river, and the bridge is safe." 
Soon sobs were again heard. The mother returned, 
and tried to reassure the child. She explained to her 



STRENGTH EQUAL TO OUR DAYS. 



43 



that there had been danger, but it was over now. The 
bridge was safe, and she must go to sleep. "But, 
Mamma," exclaimed the disconsolate child, " I am 
afraid the bridge will go off next year ! " So do we, 
children of a larger growth, anticipate evil ; we say 
" The bridge will go off next year." 

The text is an admonition against distrust and fear. 
Even if there is a positive ill to be met, why should we 
let the shadow of it fall upon us now ? The apostle 
speaks of those " who by reason of death are all their 
lifetime subject to bondage." On some persons evil 
looms up like a great cloud, and in the chilly mist of it 
they walk all their days. Jesus inculcated that we should 
take no thought for the morrow, — " Sufficient unto the 
day is the evil thereof." He pointed to the birds of 
the air, that neither sow nor reap, and to the lilies, 
that neither toil nor spin, and said that if they were 
cared for by our Father in heaven, much more would 
we be cared for by Him. Improvidence is nowhere 
inculcated in the Scriptures, but an undue anxiety is 
forbidden. The fact that the birds do not sow, and 
that the lilies do not toil, is a reason why they should 
be without thought ; but man must labor, and care is 
suitable for him. Still, he must not be too cautious, 
or be troubled with imaginary fears ; he must not carry 
the burden of a necessity not yet reached, and perhaps 
never to be reached, and allow this to fret and stagger 
him by the way. You have noticed, as you have fol- 
lowed a travelled road and approached a hill, how high 
in the distance the hill seemed ; but when you came 
nearer, the elevation grew less, and the height that 
looked so formidable was easily climbed. So is it 



44 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



with many of the mountain fears over which our life 
pathway leads. Be patient, and you will surmount 
them all. Nor is it well to worry about the future, 
since the future may never become ours. I have seen 
the father laying up for the son"; but the son dropped 
from his sight like a withered flower. I have seen the 
man of middle life laying up for old age ; but he died 
before old age came on. The truth is, we are day- 
laborers. The great Taskmaster does not contract 
with us for a month, or a year, He hires us by the day. 
At each night-fall He says, " Well, you may come 
again in the morning ; " but before another sun shall 
set He may say, " Your work is done." 

And why do we wish to know what is to be ? If we 
see the step for to-day, is not that enough ? Why do 
we wish to know what lies after the present ? If we 
see the present, is not that enough ? So long as we 
have a safe guide, why not follow Him one step at a 
time ? If you enter Mammoth Cave, you do not wish 
your guide to be too far from you. The torch may be 
in his hand, but there may be a yawning chasm be- 
tween you and him. If you climb the Jungfrau, you 
do not care to be told what lies beyond the glaciers, 
but you want to see where now to plant your feet. 
More faith is needed, to stick closer to Christ, and to 
step just where He marks out the way. If He leads 
us down to the sea, or bids us penetrate a wall of ada- 
mant, we have only to march till our feet dip into the 
water, or our hand touches the wall, and then the 
water will part, or a passage open, and the way be 
revealed. If we say, " What shall we do when we get 
there ? " we carry an unnecessary weight. " Who 



STRENGTH EQUAL TO OUR DAYS. 



45 



shall roll us away the stone?" said the disciples on the 
way to the sepulchre ; but when they arrived there, the 
stone was rolled away. "Where is the lamb for a burnt 
offering ? " asked the innocent Isaac ; when lo ! the 
substitute was found. Numberless are the illustrations 
which show that man's extremity is God's opportunity, 
and prove that it is safest to trust in God at all times. 

I bring to you, then, child of the Covenant, this 
gracious assurance, "As thy days, so shall thy strength 
be." Days of not fancied,, but real, need will overtake 
you : but you have an Almighty Friend on whom you 
can rely ; He has strength to impart, and His word is 
sure. 

There will come to you days of temptation. Satan 
will assault you. He assaulted Jesus ; he aimed to 
sift Peter as wheat. But One stronger than Satan will 
see that you are not tempted above that you are able, 
and will with the temptation also make a way to escape. 

You will experience days of trial, when your faith 
shall be tested like Abraham's, your patience proved 
like Job's, or your loyalty discovered as by the rack or 
the stake. But the same helping Hand shall be with 
you, shutting the mouth of lions, or keeping from your 
garments even the smell of fire. 

You will chronicle in your history days of danger. 
Enemies may seek to destroy you, as Saul sought 
to destroy David ; or you may from physical causes be 
in peril of your life. Then comes the sweet assurance, 
" He shall give His angels charge over thee to keep 
thee in all thy ways." 

You will pass through days of mourning. But while 
the tears fall, you shall be wonderfully sustained. 



4 6 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



There have been those who have felt that they should 
surely die if a child or friend were taken away ; and 
yet when the blow came, they confessed to a divine 
support of which they had had no knowledge before. 

You will encounter days of sickness. But a sick bed 
may become a Pisgah height, from which you shall 
catch glimpses of the heavenly country. 

You are coming to the day of death. Have no fear 
for that. Dying grace will be given you at the right 
time. Meanwhile, ask for living grace, and leave the 
needs of your last hours to Him who says : " I will 
never leave thee ; " " My grace is sufficient for thee ; " 
" My strength is made perfect in weakness ; " " As thy 
days, so shall thy strength be." 



EARLY PIETY. 



Children should be educated in and into the Church. What- 
ever our theory may be of the spiritual relation of the child to the 
Church, this is certain and true, that children should be conse- 
crated to God from their birth. " Of such is the kingdom of 
Heaven." The Church should begin in the house. 

Samuel Iren^eus Prime. 



IV. 



EARLY PIETY. 

I love them that love Me; and those that seek Me early shall 
find Me. — Prov. viii. 17. 

THE text declares that God loves those who love 
Him. This is what we should expect. We 
love those who love us ; we cannot help it. Love be- 
gets love. The kind word, the beaming eye and smil- 
ing face, — especially kind acts and attentions, — have 
a kindling power, and draw out like expressions. 

Again and again it is declared in the Scriptures that 
those who love God shall be loved by Him. Jesus 
said : " He that hath My commandments, and keepeth 
them, he it is that loveth Me : and he that loveth 
Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, 
and will manifest Myself to him." And in His prayer 
at the last interview with His disciples, He used this 
language : " I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may 
be made perfect in one ; and that the world may know 
that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou 
hast loved Me." 

So then there is no uncertainty here. He who 
speaks, speaks positively and knowingly, and His 
word is true. This is what He says : " I love them 
that love Me." What a gracious word, what a glorious 
declaration ! How much there is in it to draw the 

4 



50 



BELIEVING AND DGIXG. 



heart of every one, and especially of the timid and 
doubting", to Him who thus speaks ! It would seem as 
if God wished to conciliate the affections of men, and 
of the young particularly, — as when a stranger speaks 
kindly to a timid child, extends the hand, or offers 
some attraction to interest and draw the child towards 
him. Shall any question, then, whether God will 
receive them ? Shall any fear that their unworthiness 
is too great ? Shall any think that they are too young 
to love God and to be loved by Him ? 

The second part of the text gives still greater assur- 
ance. " And those that seek Me early shall find Me." 
The word rendered "Seek Me early" means "Seek 
Me at the dawn of the day." Some would regard the 
statement as applicable to all, and equivalent to the 
expression, " Those that seek Me with earnestness and 
importunity shall find Me." The man who has some 
important enterprise on hand, or wishes to perform 
an unusual amount of labor in a day, rises early, and 
with an intent mind, a quick step, and an active hand, 
attends to the business before him. So the man who 
manifests a like engagedness in religion will not fail 
of his end. Hence the Saviour said : " Ask, and ye 
shall receive ; seek, and ye shall find ; knock, and it 
shall be opened unto you." We may, however, regard 
the words, " Seek Me early," as having reference to 
the morning of life. 

i. It is a promise to the young. Are we told, every 
one that seeketh findeth ? — then much more, says the 
text, will they who seek in early life find. They shall 
meet with less difficulty in seeking ; they shall find, 
without the embarrassment and hindrances pertaining 



EARLY PIETY. 



51 



to adult age. What more, then, by way of encourage- 
ment could the young ask ? What inducement to 
seek in any case, when we know that we shall find ? 
How often persons stake large sums upon uncertain- 
ties ! They will leave many comforts and run many 
risks and endure much fatigue, on the mere possibility 
of obtaining a recompense. But here is a mine, the 
Proprietor of which says, " I know where the treasure 
lies, and if you will follow My directions, you shall 
find, — and in the case of the young, you shall find 
easily; it will require but little exploration and but 
little digging. The treasure is near you, — near the 
surface, near where you stand. Only set yourself 
to seeking, and you shall soon say, ' I have found, 
I have found ! ' " 

It would seem as if God cared more for the conver- 
sion of the young than of those in mature or advanced 
life. From the prominence given to children in the 
Scriptures, the love expressed for them, the counsels 
and directions addressed to them, the promises relat- 
ing to them, and especially the notice which Christ 
took of children, and from what He said of them, we 
may infer this. Besides, as they are more lovely to us, 
in their simplicity, innocence, and promise, so they 
must be to God. How is it possible for God to look 
upon one, who has long withstood His grace, with the 
same complacency that He would upon the child that 
has recently come from His hands, and upon whom, 
though inheriting a sinful nature, sin has not wrought 
so fearful a work ? No wonder, then, that we find 
special invitations and encouragements addressed to 
the young. 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



2. Is it not clear that in early life it is easier to 
repent because there are fewer sins to repent of, be- 
cause the habit of sinning is not so inveterate, and 
because the heart is more susceptible to tender im- 
pressions ? Is it not to be expected, in this point of 
view, that God should desire — and what He desires we 
should desire — the conversion of moral beings at the 
period of life when conversion is easiest ? Hence the 
exhortation to the young to remember their Creator 
" while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh 
when they shall say, I have no pleasure in them." 
This consideration should weigh with the young, and 
lead them to remember God and repent of sin now 
when grace is nigh. This is the golden moment; 
another like it will never return. The offer for one's 
heart may be considered to be the greatest and most 
urgent at the beginning of life. It is as if a person 
wishing to buy a piece of property should come to 
the owner and agree to pay a certain sum for it. The 
offer is rejected, and he turns away. By and by he 
returns, and says, " I will pay a smaller sum," and is 
again refused ; and so he continues to come, but each 
time offers a sum less than before, till at last the 
owner is glad to sell at the lowest price. We say, 
then, to the young, " Accept God's offer of love now ; 
you will never see so favorable a time. Hear His 
voice : ' Wilt thou not from this time cry unto Me, My 
Father, Thou art the Guide of my youth ? ' " 

3. Early piety commends itself, and is to be desired, 
because of its relations to subsequent life. How much 
of evil is by it avoided, and how much greater use- 
fulness secured ! Conversion in childhood leaves the 



EARLY PIETY. 



53 



entire life for God; while at a later period a less 
amount and it may be but the dregs are given. In 
this case there is but little opportunity for doing 
good, while the whole previous life must be counted 
as lost, or worse than lost, in the evil done. To pre- 
vent that evil is of vast importance ; but if now we 
can turn all those energies and powers to account, 
and make them positively efficient for good, it is still 
better. The stream that overspreads fruitful fields 
and occasions a great destruction of property and of 
human life would be well mastered if it could only be 
turned into legitimate channels and made to find its 
way peacefully to the sea. But it would be a greater 
triumph if it could be made at the same time an in- 
strument of good, and compelled, as it rolls along, to 
turn wheel after wheel, and cause mill and factory to 
hum with the energies of a productive life. The con- 
verted child is such a stream. Admitting too that the 
adult convert may be useful, it is plain that he cannot 
be so useful as if he had begun sooner, not only with 
respect to time, but also with respect to advantages 
and qualifications. How hard to shape him to habits 
of benevolence, and to bring him to engage in active 
Christian labors ! How the old traits cling to him and 
impair his usefulness, even when, in the judgment of 
charity, the person is actually renewed ! But when a 
child is converted it is not like altering and repairing 
an old building, which retains the former features and 
is unsatisfactory, but it is beginning from the founda- 
tion, and making the superstructure what you wish. 
A symmetrical character is formed, duties become 
easy, and far greater efficiency is secured. 



54 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



Besides, a late conversion interferes with the choice 
of a profession ; and thus much good may be lost. 
Who knows but that if the mechanic or tradesman 
recently converted had been converted ten or twenty 
years before, he would not now be occupying some 
place of marked usefulness, exerting an untold influ- 
ence? while now it is too late to change his profession, 
and all the good he does he must do in his present 
sphere. It may be said generally that the most useful 
men in the world were converted young ; and the rea- 
son is obvious : if they had not been, they would not 
have been qualified to occupy such a place and to be 
thus useful. If the man who might otherwise go as 
a missionary to the heathen is not converted till he is 
established and settled in life, it is evident that he can- 
not then go, for the previous education and training 
are wanting. If our present missionaries and minis- 
ters and most influential collegiate and theological 
professors, for the same reason, had not been con- 
verted till recently, it is evident that they would not 
now be in those positions of influence and usefulness. 
Had Jonathan Edwards not been converted in early 
life, it is questionable, though he had the same powers 
of mind, whether we should ever have heard of his 
name ; or had he attained distinction in some secular 
calling, it is not probable that he would have been 
half so useful or have left half so great a name. 
" Timothy D wight was converted just in time to save 
his devoting his talents and energies to the profession 
of law. But though his studies had been directed 
towards that end, and though he was urged by influ- 
ential friends to devote himself to public life, with the 



EARLY PIETY. 



55 



promise, so far as it could be made, and the reasonable 
expectation, of being elected to the Continental Con- 
gress, yet his new experience so affected his heart and 
changed his purposes as to lead him ardently and reso- 
lutely to choose the sacred ministry." And who shall 
say that his choice was not well, or that his usefulness 
was not greatly promoted ? The young may not all 
expect to become eminent, or think that youthful 
piety is to lift them all into conspicuous spheres ; still 
it is true, and they may conclude, that if converted 
now, they will be much more useful than if converted 
at some distant day. With your eye, then, on the fu- 
ture, my youthful friends, with reference to the good 
you may yet do, it should be your wish and purpose 
to have a name and place among the friends of God 
now. What a stimulus is presented here also to par- 
ents and educators to be faithful in endeavoring to 
secure the conversion of the young ! 

4. How beautiful is youthful piety ! As one of the 
hymns says : — 

"Grace is a plant, where'er it grows, 
Of pure and heavenly root, 
But fairest in the youngest shows, 
And yields the sweetest fruit." 

Piety is beautiful in itself; but when grafted upon the 
gentle heart of childhood, it is especially so. Nor is 
youthful piety an object merely to please the eye, but 
also a power to move the heart. Where it is observed 
it adds impressive testimony to the value and excel- 
lence of religion. It has been the means of melting 
hearts that no other influence seemed to affect or 



56 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



reach. Parents have been drawn by it to the cross, 
and brought to become themselves children again. 
Hardened sceptics have found arguments in it which 
they could not answer, and under its power been led 
to renounce their scepticism arid cry for mercy. The 
memoirs of pious children have been blessed as an 
instrument of salvation to multitudes of souls. The 
story of the little Syracuse boy Scoville H. McCollum, 
not long after it was published, was the means of the 
conversion of upwards of twenty children ; and if one 
such life shall in any measure be repeated, who can 
tell the amount of good that it may accomplish? In 
this sense a child may die a hundred years old. As 
a power in the world and an instrument of blessing, 
the child's life may mount to more than that of a 
great scholar or a great general. Oftentimes revivals 
of religion begin among the young in Sabbath-schools 
and work outward and upward till an entire people is 
aroused. 

We have some instances of youthful piety furnished 
in the Scriptures, and it is a pleasure to dwell upon 
them. Every Sabbath-school scholar is acquainted 
with the history of little Samuel, whose mother con- 
secrated him so early to the Lord ; who waited upon 
Eli the high priest when the house of the Lord was 
at Shiloh ; who heard the Lord calling him by name 
at night, and answered, " Here am I ; " and who after- 
wards judged Israel through a long and useful life. 
Josiah was another holy child, who became king when 
only eight years old, and reigned in Jerusalem with 
great wisdom and excellence thirty-one years. " In 
the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, 



EARLY PIETY. 



57 



he began to seek after the God of David his father; 
and he did that which was right in the sight of the 
Lord, and neither declined to the right hand, nor to 
the left." Jeremiah is another who experienced regen- 
erating grace when very young, and was even then 
designated to be a prophet. Examples of youthful 
piety united with princely birth and station are some- 
times found on the pages of profane history. Such 
an instance we have in Edward VI. of England, son 
of Henry VIII., who was crowned when but nine 
years of age ; he reigned six years, and died at the 
age of fifteen. It is stated that at his coronation, 
"which took place Feb. 20, 1547, he being then only 
nine years old, when three swords were brought, as 
signs of his being king of three kingdoms, he said 
there was one yet wanting. And when the nobles 
about him asked him what that was, he answered, 
' The Bible ! ' ' That book,' added he, 1 is the sword of 
the Spirit, and to be preferred before these swords. 
That in all right ought to govern us who use the 
sword by God's appointment for the people's safety. 
He who rules without the Bible is not to be called 
God's minister or a king. From that alone we obtain 
all power, virtue, grace, salvation, and whatsoever we 
have of divine strength.'" Other anecdotes are re- 
lated concerning this youthful and pious king. The 
young Lord Douglas was another interesting person- 
age. When about to die it is stated that he called 
his younger brother to his side, upon whom his title 
and estate were to descend, and said : " I am about 
to die, and you are to be Lord Douglas; but while 
you will be only a prince on earth, I shall reign as a 



53 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



king in heaven." We may not multiply instances like 
these. Let the example of holy children, in all the 
walks of life, win not only the approbation of the 
young, but also lead them to pattern after the example 
thus furnished. 

5. It is a serious consideration that if the young do 
not seek the Lord now, they may never in the future 
have the opportunity. These few brief years, my youth- 
ful friends, may be all that you will see. Death may 
come to you and find you, not like youths that are 
prepared, but wholly unprepared ; and then sad will 
your condition be. In every cemetery there are little 
graves. 

"As you look around o'er the hallowed ground, 

Little graves here and there you see ; 
And they seem to say as you thither stray, 

' There 's a grave in this ground for thee.' 
And the bell may toll for a youthful soul 

Fled away to the God who gave, 
While the mouldering clay from the light of day 

Shall be hid in the cold, cold grave." 

Dear child, beloved youth, put not off this great 
matter of securing the friendship of God. Oh, gra- 
cious words, " I love them that love Me, and those 
that seek Me early shall find Me ! " 



THE DESTRUCTION OF BABYLON. 



They who live in sin ; they who indulge in revelry ; they who 
are profane and sacrilegious ; they who abuse the mercies of God 
and live to deride sacred things, — can never be certain that in a 
moment, by the revelation of their guilt to their own souls, and by 
a sudden message from the eternal world, they may not be over- 
whelmed with the deepest consternation. 

Albert Barnes. 



V. 



THE DESTRUCTION OF BABYLON. 

In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. 
And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about three- 
score and two years old. — Daniel v. 30, 31. 

THIS was the end of one of the most powerful 
kingdoms of the world. It had stood for seven- 
teen hundred years. Its destruction occurred about 
500 B. c. It appears that the descendants of Noah, 
one hundred and twenty years after the Flood, under- 
took the erection of the tower of Babel. This stood 
in a plain, and was the starting-point of the city of 
Babylon. After the confusion of tongues a portion of 
the builders probably remained there, and thus the 
city was founded. The tower, it is thought, was com- 
pleted, and called the tower of Belus, which stood 
within the city, and is still identified among those an- 
cient ruins. Babylon was enlarged, or rebuilt, as some 
persons suppose, by Semiramis, the Assyrian queen, 
1200 B. C, and reached its highest splendor under 
Nebuchadnezzar, grandfather of Belshazzar spoken of 
in the text. 

It was a city of great magnificence. All around it 
were walls sixty miles in circumference, three hundred 
feet high, and seventy-five feet wide. The walls formed 



62 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



a square ; in front of and parallel with the walls was 
a deep trench. The city was laid out like a checker- 
board. In each of the four walls were twenty-five 
brazen gates, and from these, streets crossed to the 
gates on the opposite side. Thus twenty-five streets 
crossed each other at right angles, with a gate at each 
end. Each street was fifteen miles in length. The 
city was built on the Euphrates, which ran from north 
to south, and divided the city into two nearly equal 
parts. On each side of the river was a quay, with a 
wall of the same thickness as the walls of the city. In 
these walls were gates of brass, and from the quay 
steps descended into the river. These gates and steps 
were where the streets crossed the river. There was a 
bridge thrown across the river of remarkable beauty 
and contrivance. At each end of the bridge was a 
palace, and these palaces had a subterranean commu- 
nication. To prevent the overflowing of the river 
high embankments or levees were raised ; two canals 
also were cut to turn the water into the Tigris. On 
the western side of the city was an artificial lake forty 
miles square, and excavated to the depth of thirty-five 
feet, into which they turned the river till the work 
on the canals and embankments was completed. The 
palace of Nebuchadnezzar was situated in an enclosure 
six miles in extent. Within this also were the famous 
hanging-gardens, which were constructed upon an im- 
mense artificial mound four hundred feet high. The 
tower of Belus rose six hundred feet above the plain. 
These hanging-gardens were sustained by arches upon 
arches, which were terraced off for trees and flowers. 
Water was furnished from the river by machinery 



THE DESTRUCTION OF BABYLON. 



63 



concealed in the mound. Thus the city seemed to sit 
as a queen. It is said of the inhabitants at this time 
that they were renowned for learning, especially in 
astronomy, and for skill in various arts, as the making 
of carpets, cloths, perfumes, jewelry, etc. The situa- 
tion of the city gave it the control of business by the 
Euphrates and by caravans between the East and the 
West, and into its lap flowed, by commerce or con- 
quest, the wealth of almost all known lands. Hence 
we find it called " a city of merchants; " " the great; " 
"the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency;" "the lady 
of kingdoms; " and so on. 

But following upon greatness and opulence came 
luxury and pride, and then public corruption and dis- 
soluteness of morals. Heathen deities were wor- 
shipped with impure rites ; the people were given to 
wine and immoderate pleasures ; women were present 
at convivial feasts, and gross indecencies were com- 
mitted. No people, perhaps, ever made themselves 
so vile. 

Now we turn from this proud and corrupt city to 
note the prophecies concerning it. The eye of God 
sees all this wickedness, and by the mouth of His 
servants He lifts His warning voice and utters the 
threat of doom. 

Thus by Isaiah He says : " And Babylon, the glory 
of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, 
shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. 
It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in 
from generation to generation : neither shall the Ara- 
bian pitch tent there ; neither shall the shepherds 



6 4 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert 
shall lie there ; and their houses shall be full of dole- 
ful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs 
shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands 
shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their 
pleasant palaces : and her time is near to come, and 
her days shall not be prolonged." We find the 
prophet putting a song of triumph into the mouth of 
the Israelites in anticipation of the destruction of 
Babylon, beginning : " How hath the oppressor ceased ! 
the golden city ceased ! " and ending thus : " And I 
will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the 
Lord of hosts." Yet again we find the prophet ac- 
tually naming the man who was to destroy Babylon, 
and suggesting the method by which it should be 
done. " Thus saith the Lord to His anointed, to 
Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue 
nations before him ; and I will loose the loins of 
kings, to open before him the two leaved gates ; and 
the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, 
and make the crooked places straight: I will break in 
pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars 
of iron. ... I have even called thee by thy name : I 
have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known Me." 
This was one hundred and fifty years before Cyrus 
was born ! Thus it appears that Isaiah's predictions 
were specific, and not general. We might say of a 
city as wicked as Babylon, some judgment will over- 
take it; but the prophet was particular, and even gave 
the name of the agent and the exact method by which 
the city was to be destroyed ! Jeremiah, a hundred 
years later, uttered similar predictions. " How is the 



THE DESTRUCTION OF BABYLON. 



65 



hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken ! 
How is Babylon become a desolation among the 
nations? . . . And I will make drunk her princes, and 
her wise men, her captains, and her rulers, and her 
mighty men : and they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, 
and not wake, saith the King, whose name is the 
Lord of hosts. . . . Thus saith the Lord of hosts : 
The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, 
and her high gates shall be burned with fire ; and the 
people shall labor in vain, and the folk in the fire, and 
they shall be weary." Daniel came still later, pro- 
claiming the city's destruction on the very night in 
which Belshazzar was slain. 

Thus we see the great, beautiful, and wicked city, 
and hear its sentence of doom. The crisis now has 
come. See ! around those walls has assembled a 
mighty army, led by the man whom prophecy fore- 
told. We pause a moment to ask " Who is this 
man?" History tells us he was the son of Cam- 
byses, king of Persia, and Mandane, daughter of 
Ahasuerus, king of the Medes. Cyrus, born B. c. 
595, was educated with great care; at the age of 
twelve he was sent, with his mother, to the court of 
Media, and there treated with marked attention. At 
sixteen he distinguished himself in a war with the 
king of Babylon. At the court of Media was Darius, 
son of Ahasuerus, brother of Mandane, and uncle of 
Cyrus. His daughter Cyrus afterwards married, unit- 
ing the crowns of Media and Persia. Darius being 
still involved in war with the Babylonians, Cyrus was 
made general of the Persian troops, and united his 
forces with Darius against Babylon. Together they 

5 



66 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



captured the city and destroyed their enemies ; Da- 
rius, as senior in authority, taking the kingdom, as 
stated in the text. The method by which the city was 
captured was truly wonderful. With their high and 
thick walls and brazen gates the Babylonians felt per- 
fectly secure. The Persian army might try to scale 
the walls or penetrate them, but it would be in vain ; 
Cyrus would only weary himself out, and must raise 
the siege. But what is that prophecy about opening 
the two-leaved gates and drying up the rivers? We 
shall see by and by. 

Now we look to see what is passing within the city. 
The utmost confidence prevails there, and the people 
have not in the least ceased from their thoughtless 
and sinful pleasures. The king has even now assem- 
bled his courtiers about him, — princes, wives, and con- 
cubines ; and from the sacred vessels that were taken 
from the temple at Jerusalem they are quaffing wine, 
and praising the gods of gold, silver, and brass, of 
iron, wood, and stone. A thousand lords are gathered 
there ; the wine flows freely and the laugh runs high. 
But suddenly the king is seized with trembling, and 
his face turns deadly pale. He spies upon the wall 
a glaring handwriting that he cannot read, and yet 
that he reads too well. The voice of doom is there, 
and this fills him with a strange agony that makes 
his knees smite one against another, and his face turn 
pale. Then he cries aloud for the astrologers and 
soothsayers and wise men of Babylon. None can in- 
terpret till Daniel is brought, who reads the message 
and makes it plain: " Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin /" 
" God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. 



THE DESTRUCTION OF BABYLON. 67 



Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found 
wanting. Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the 
Medes and Persians." How was this? What does 
the prophet mean? Look at Cyrus, and you shall 
see. He has simply watched his opportunity. He 
has heard of those midnight revelries, and he has 
thought of the possibility of a gate being left open 
as a consequence of confidence and inebriety. He 
must reach that gate ; it is one of those in the inner 
wall, by the edge of the river. Accordingly, he turns 
the water of the river through a canal into the lake, 
and thus drains the channel, enabling the soldiers to 
march along the bed of the river into the city. It was 
a tremendous surprise and a complete victory. There 
was neither resistance nor time to resist ; the prophet 
had scarce concluded his solemn utterance when the 
noisy banqueters were startled by the soldiers' pres- 
ence, and in that night was Belshazzar, the king of the 
Chaldeans, slain. 

From this time on, Babylon declined, and all that 
was written concerning her was literally fulfilled. 
Even the situation of all this grandeur was unknown, 
— the dust of centuries had buried it from view; and 
it is only within the last two centuries that her ruins 
have been discovered and her site has become known. 
Such was the end of that great city and kingdom, so 
terribly did God perform His word ! Well might 
Isaiah cry, as with prophetic vision he saw the end : 
" How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of 
the morning ! " " Babylon is fallen, is fallen ! " 

Now let us learn some lessons. 

1. We see that grandeur and power cannot save a 



68 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



city or a kingdom. If these could, then Babylon 
would have stood to this day. It did not seem possi- 
ble that a city of such proportions and defences, with 
its massive walls and brazen gates, with its costly 
material structures, — the tower of Belus, the palace, 
the hanging-gardens (one of the seven wonders of the 
world), — with its immense commerce and vast influ- 
ence and power ; the city that Nebuchadnezzar took 
so much pride in as he walked in his palace and said : 
" Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the 
house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and 
for the honor of my majesty? " — it did not seem that 
all this could be so utterly obliterated and destroyed. 

No, it is not beauty, art, strength, wealth, magnifi- 
cence, or greatness that preserves a city or a nation. 
Things that are costly and grand with men may be 
of no account with God. Moral worth, strength of 
principle, the beauty of holiness, God looks with more 
favor upon, than upon outward splendor, that seems 
only as a garniture to inward lust. The only true 
antiseptic influence in society is public virtue; and 
when this departs, putrefaction must soon follow. 
We are to set a right store, then, by that which is 
pure and good ; we must practise that which is hon- 
est and excellent ourselves; and aim to diffuse through 
society correct principles, and build up in each soul 
a conscientious regard for all that is right, true, and 
good. 

2. We see that it is a fearful thing to fall into God's 
hands. What a judgment did He send upon Babylon ! 
God is infinitely holy and almighty. He will not tol- 
erate wickedness, and though He may wait even after 



THE DESTRUCTION OF BABYLON. 



6 9 



He has uttered a city's doom, the blow will fall. No 
person, city, or community may hope to continue in a 
course of high-handed wickedness. " Be sure your sin 
will find you out." You must not think that God is 
slack because His judgments forbear. Over every 
transgressor there is the " burden " of woe. I would 
caution you, then, against all wrong-doing. You can- 
not hide where God's eye cannot see you or His hand 
reach you. Walls of adamant, and gates of brass are 
as nothing when the cup is full. You may indulge 
in sinful mirth and forget your true condition, but 
suddenly a mene, mene> upon the wall shall bring 
pallor to your face and fill your frame with trembling. 
Do not, then, whosoever you are, keep on in sinful 
courses. Stop, before judgment overtakes you. 

3. The hand of Providence is to be seen here. How 
literally did fact and prophecy agree ! How singular 
that those canals and that lake should have been made 
just to answer Cyrus' purpose when he wished to 
destroy the city ! How singular also that the gate 
should have been left open, and that Cyrus should 
enter in through it, just as had been predicted one 
hundred and fifty years before ! None but a Divine 
Being could arrange and regulate such a scheme. So 
in all great events and in every little circumstance 
the Hand of God is present, if it is not to be seen. 
" Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not 
done it? " " In Him we live, and move, and have our 
being." We are to distinguish between fatalism and 
providence. It did not tie Cyrus' hands because he 
was named and spoken of one hundred and fifty years 
before he was born. In some sense the life of every 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



individual is similarly known to God. We are obliged 
to think of God as sovereign and omniscient, or else 
He could not be God. We see Him evidencing His 
divine prescience. At the same time we are con- 
scious of independence and freedom. We feel more 
pleasure in thinking that our lives are the unfolding of 
a divine plan, and that we are led by a Father's hand, 
than in considering ourselves the creatures of Fate, 
with a life that starts in darkness, is moved by chance, 
and comes to nought. . We love to study the Bible for 
the evidence it furnishes of divine providence ; we 
love to note an overruling Power in what is hap- 
pening around us; and we love, with reference to 
individual history, to sing, — 

" In each event of life, how clear 
Thy ruling hand I see ! " 

4. We have presented here a striking instance of the 
power of conscience. The guilty king is ready to see 
an omen of evil in the handwriting, though he cannot 
read it. He feels that there is a crisis near, and he 
quivers with alarm. What now is the hilarity of the 
moments gone, when the knell of doom is sounding! 
Thus did God let in upon this guilty soul the torments 
of its own misdoing. " It is not often," says one, " that 
God comes forth in this way to alarm the guilty; but 
He has a thousand methods of doing it, and no one 
can be sure that in an instant He will not summon all 
the sins of his past life to remembrance. He could 
write our guilt in letters of light before us, — in the 
chamber where we sleep ; in the hall where we engage 
in revelry ; on the face of the sky at night : or He can 



THE DESTRUCTION OF BABYLON. *]\ 

make it as plain to our minds as if it were thus written 
out. To Belshazzar in his palace, surrounded by his 
lords, He showed this; to us in society or solitude he 
can do the same thing. No sinner can have any 
security that he may not in a moment be overwhelmed 
with the conviction of his own depravity, and with 
dreadful apprehension of the wrath to come." 

Now, dear friends, let us so live that we shall always 
have a conscience void of offence, and that when 
death shall come to us it shall bring us no alarm. 
Death is the king of terrors only to the man who is 
conscious of wrong-doing. Death will some time 
come. If we can hold on to our earthly possessions 
till the last moment, we must then give them up. If 
we live in a palace and wear a crown, we must still 
die. The things of earth, for which those of you who 
are still out of Christ are toiling, are not worth the 
thought and time that you bestow. It is all right to 
get an honest living; but with your getting, there is 
something else to win. You are immersed in cares ; 
you are variously occupied ; and if not taken up with 
feasting, you will ere long be as much surprised as 
was the Chaldean king in his midnight revelry. God 
is calling after you, saying : " Lay up for yourselves 
treasures in heaven." He appeals to you by His 
Spirit; He addresses you by His providences; He 
calls through the ministry and ordinances of His 
Church, and asks if you will not now secure the true 
riches. My friends, do not slight His call, and make 
your hearts yet harder under the special influences 
and entreaties of the Gospel. For the doomed city 



72 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



and kingdom with its guilty ruler there was no 
redemption; but for you there is pardon, hope, and 
promise of blessedness. Will you avail yourself of 
the opportunities and privileges of this hour? Will 
you acknowledge your guiltiness, confess your ill- 
desert and utter helplessness, and by faith, repent- 
ance, and obedience make the Lord Jesus Christ your 
personal Saviour? 



AFTER THE RAIN. 



Be still, sad heart ! and cease repining ; 
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining; 
Thy fate is the common fate of all, 
Into each life some rain must fall, 
Some days must be dark and dreary. 

Henry W. Longfellow. 



VI. 



AFTER THE RAIN. 



Nor the clouds return after the rain. — Eccles. xii. 2. 



,LD age is referred to as an evil time. Youth are 



admonished to remember their Creator before 
the "evil days" come, — the days without pleasure, 
when the light is withdrawn, and " the clouds return 
after the rain." That is, when the faculties give way, 
infirmities multiply, and joyless, dismal days follow one 
another in rapid succession. But knowing how much 
there is that is sorrowful in life, we are at liberty to 
ascribe to it that which is here ascribed to a part of 
it. The dark days do not all come at the end of life ; 
they are distributed along. There are alternations of 
light and cloud, of gladness and tears, till we come 
where clouds never gather, and tears never fall. So 
much of sorrow is there in this life that it is common 
to say, " Man was made to mourn." We speak of this 
world as a " vale of tears." David described his situa- 
tion as one in which " tears were his meat day and 
night." And to make the contrast of heaven infinitely 
great, it is written, " And God shall wipe away all 
tears from their eyes." Youth are wont to think of 
life as all sunshine; but they get not far on before 
they find that tears and darkness come to them. It is 




7 6 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



\ 



the common experience in life's pilgrimage that we 
are ever stopping to dig graves. Again and again we 
leave behind us some precious form. But there are 
also graves of fortune,' graves of hope and friendship, 
of trust and confidence, of desire and purpose, so that 
our course can be traced back to the cradle by the 
monuments that we have reared along the way. There 
is no day so bright but that a dark one, at no great 
distance, follows it ; there is no storm so great but that 
you may be sure that the clouds will return after the 
rain. Indeed, we have come to look for these alterna- 
tions. When it rains, we know the sun will shine ; and 
when the sky is clear and all is bright, we know that 
the clouds will return and send down rain. There are 
spells of balmy weather and gentle breezes which the 
sailors call "weather breeders," which come as har- 
bingers of the approaching storm. So in human lots 
the bright day, like the signal at the end of the train, 
seems to say, " Look out for the dark day that is to 
follow." We rejoice when the clouds withdraw, the 
fierce elements cease their raging, the sun pours 
abroad his cheering rays, and the birds in the branches 
begin to sing. But experience says : " Think not that 
this will always last; enjoy the glory while it is yours, 
but know that the clouds will return after the rain." 
We see and know that it is so, and hence we are wont 
to speak of life as an April day. It is a most fitting 
emblem, with its gleams of light, its sudden dashes, its 
fitful changes, its uncertain ways. 

Perhaps we think that things might be better than 
they are ; we deprecate these changes ; we wish that 
there were not such breaking up of plans, such disap- 



AFTER THE RAIN. 



77 



pointment of hopes, and that the clouds would not 
return after the rain. But there is One who knows 
what is best, and He is ordering all things for hu- 
man good. Amid all the discords of Nature there 
is harmony; and so amid all the conflicting and dis- 
heartening providences there is a loving and wise de- 
sign. Suppose the clouds should not return after the 
rain; suppose the sun should never cease his shining: 
how soon would all the fields of the earth wither, the 
springs dry up, every tree and plant and shrub with- 
hold its gift, and every living thing die? Nature is 
a grand workshop, and all the elements are artisans 
uniting in labors for the service of man. He who 
presides over all, bids the waves to beat, the air to stir, 
the sun to shine, and the rain to fall in such way, time, 
and measure as shall bring all into perfect fellowship, 
and best promote the one purpose of good to man. 
So in providence God has us under culture, and the 
dark days are just as necessary as the days that shine. 
How strange that we do not learn from ourselves ! 
When you pot flowers you do not put them out in the 
burning sun, you choose a rainy day, and set them 
where the showers reach them ; and when you suspect 
that the heat is too strong, you throw a shade over the 
delicate blossom, or put it away in the dark. And 
yet, when God treats us so, we call the treatment cruel. 
He knows that prosperity would prove our ruin, and 
so He brings us under the cloud shadow; and then our 
soul drinks in divine grace, and grows with expansive 
vigor. Heights make us giddy, and so God brings us 
low; and then we turn to Him. Goodness should lead 
us to repentance, and it sometimes does; but oftener 



78 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



adversity makes one feel his need, and throws him back 
on God as his only helper. God tries all methods. 
All rain drowns, and all sun withers ; and hence God 
mingles, withholds, and apportions as suits Him. It is 
a pity that sin should have entered this world ; and yet 
these sorrows may work for our highest joy. The tears 
that we shed may turn to pearls, while the gladness 
that we felt may have been a siren that was leading 
us away. We are not capable of judging rightly now; 
in eternity we may say: " Bless God that He took my 
all; for it made me find Him! Bless God that He 
stripped me of property, or thwarted my plans, or 
took husband or wife and broke up my home ; for so 
I found the true riches, gained an immortal hope, and 
have come to the reunions of the eternal home ! " And 
if salvation does not grow out of these losses, but 
some lesser good, even then we may not feel that sor- 
rows are unwisely sent and have no value. After we 
have obtained a Christian hope, we still need discipline. 
The plant once up, must still be nurtured ; the growth 
shall be most perfect, not when there has been simply 
sunshine, but as well a full supply of rain. And so 
the sweetest characters are commonly those who have 
seen the most sorrow. It is all very hard; but grace 
preponderates, love and meekness and piety grow, 
God is glorified, and every tear becomes the pledge 
and token of an infinite recompense in the world of joy. 

Furthermore, sorrows by contrast make heaven 
more precious. If this world were all we wish it to 
be, we should not want another ; if our earthly homes 
never knew sickness or death, we should have no 
desire to sing, " Heaven is my home." It is the lost 



AFTER THE RAIN. 



79 



feeling, the absent feeling, the consciousness that we 
are away from our Father's house and from all that we 
love best, that makes us willing to leave this world, 
and 11 desire to depart," or " long to be there." Natu- 
rally we are glued to earth, and it is a detaching process 
that must be carried on. We must find the world so 
fickle and treacherous that we shall not trust it; we 
must experience so much of discomfort and hardship 
that we shall long for something better; we must have 
so many friends go and live on the other shore that 
we shall feel that we want our home where they are. 
So then as earth grows less in our esteem, heaven 
grows brighter ; as these vain things attract us less, 
the nearer do we seem to come to the gates and streets 
and mansions of the eternal city. Our darkness here 
speaks of the light there ; our broken links suggest the 
reunited chain ; our falling tears tell us that above, the 
clouds never return after the rain. Ah ! joyous time, 
w r hen we come where the sun never sets, and the heart 
knows no pain. As one writes : — 

" How sweet when, waning fast away, 
The stars of this dim earth decay, 
To hail, prophetic of the day, 

The golden dawn above, my soul ! 
To feel we only sleep to rise 
In sunnier lands and fairer skies, 
And bind again our broken ties 

In ever-living love, my soul ! 

" How sweet, when on this broken lyre 
The melodies of time expire, 
To feel it strung with chords of fire, 

To praise th' Immortal One, my soul ! 



8o 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



And while our farewell tears we pour 
To those we leave on this cold shore, 
To know that we shall weep no more, 
Nor live in heaven alone, my soul." 

We know so little of heaven that we have to de- 
scribe it by negations. It is the place where sin and 
death and pain do not come, where love is never 
mocked, where hope is never disappointed, where com- 
panionship knows no end. The celestial city has no 
cemetery; no graves are opened there; no weeds of 
mourning are worn there; no groans or sighs are 
heard there; no tears are seen there; fear, weari- 
ness, and anxiety have no place there. In some sense 
heaven is just the opposite of all that earth is. So by 
the contrast we form guesses, and multiply the joy by 
thinking that that joy will have no end. Says one: 
" We have a little, just a little, to help our thoughts 
here. The exquisite luxury of respite from pain, of 
relief from anxiety, of rest, we do all know in a mea- 
sure ; but take the best of these moments and make 
them perfect and stamp them 'eternal,' — how changed, 
how ' new ' they would be ! For 1 the clouds return after 
the rain' here, and we learn to rejoice with trembling, — 
afraid sometimes to think we are better ; afraid to say 
we are at ease. For since the beginning of the world 
men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, neither 
hath the. eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He hath 
prepared for him that waiteth for Him." 

Living as we do in a world of alternations, it is neces- 
sary that we adapt ourselves to our state. If the clouds 
return after the rain, then we ought to expect them to 



AFTER THE RAIN. 



Si 



return. We ought not to think when the sun shines 
that we are to see no more darkness in this world. 
In the fairest weather we should be prepared for the 
storm; we should have our roof tight when it does not 
rain, and then when it does rain we shall receive no 
harm. Men who think because the sun shines it will 
always shine, make a great mistake. There is a Bible 
caution : " If a man live many years, and rejoice in 
them all ; yet let him remember the days of darkness, 
for they shall be many." It is not meant that we 
shall be all the while walking in the shadow of a cloud 
that is yet to arise, that we shall anticipate evil, or 
be unhappy because we know that trouble may come ; 
it is simply meant that we shall not be too sanguine, 
too hopeful. In accordance with this thought are 
those other precepts : " Rejoice with trembling ; " " Let 
your moderation be known ; " " Live soberly in this 
world." The danger is that we shall not exercise this 
thoughtfulness and caution. A man prospers in busi- 
ness, and he becomes vain, lays out great plans, and 
forgets God ; or he gathers around him loving hearts, 
and he thinks that health and happiness are always to 
be his. But in the moment of confidence the bolt falls 
from a clear sky. There are two psalms that stand 
in striking proximity. In one, the thirtieth, we find 
David rejoicing ; and this is what he writes : " In my 
prosperity I said, I shall never be moved." We turn 
to the next psalm, and lo ! he is in the depths ; and this 
is his cry: " Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am 
in trouble. . . . My life is spent with grief, and my 
years with sighing." That is the man who said in his 
prosperity, " I shall never be moved"! So it is; we 

6 



82 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



are saying, if not by words, in feeling and conduct, " I 
shall never be moved ; " and then in a short time, and 
quite unlooked for, the morning comes, and we are in 
trouble. We must understand this, and not boast or be 
too confident. We must remember that the clouds 
return after the rain, and be prepared for the dark 
days as well as enjoy the sunny ones. To expect an 
evil is to be armed against it. To keep in mind life's 
changes is to make them less painful when they come. 
Some people cry out against God when sorrows come 
as if He had done them a great wrong, — when He is 
all the while showing them in the alternations of day 
and night, summer and winter, sunshine and rain, that 
this is a law of this life; when He is showing them 
also in the history of others that there are no excep- 
tions to this law, which is universal, that changes must 
come. 

There is another and counter duty of adaptation. 
If we must expect the clouds to return after the rain, 
we must also expect them to depart. If in the light 
we should anticipate darkness, in the darkness we 
should anticipate light. If we are not in prosperity to 
be puffed up, in adversity we are not to be cast down. 
When our sky is bright, we should keep in mind that 
by and by the clouds will return; but when the clouds 
are above us, and all is dark, we have no right to say, 
" The sun will never again shine." The most sanguine 
seem the most disconsolate when a change comes. 
How men will nurse their griefs, and refuse to be com- 
forted, and beat their heads like naughty children upon 
the marble, and cry out the more ! Should they not 
know that the darkest night never kept back the 



AFTER THE RAIN. 



83 



incoming day? The wildest tempest, lashing sky and 
waves into mixed commotion, gives place to a smooth 
and peaceful mirror and an overarching vault of blue. 
Let the clouds return; when they have poured out 
their bountiful treasures and wrought in us the disci- 
pline of sorrow, mellowing the hard soil of our hearts, 
supplying the juices of a vigorous growth to each soul- 
plant, and softening all our nature for a better life, 
then light shall return, warm rays shall shine on us, 
and all our being shall unfold into fullest blossoming, 
sweetest fragrance, and largest gift of fruit. We say, 
then, to those on whom the rain is falling, Be of good 
cheer; the clouded sky and the rain-drops are sent 
in love ; you may be drenched, but you will not be 
drowned ; the loving Husbandman will see that you 
receive only such treatment as is best for you and as 
you need, enhancing your usefulness, deepening your 
experience, and bringing to you in the end the largest 
measure of joy. 

My friends, our great need is to have an interest in 
Christ, to arm us against sorrow and to prepare us to 
die. Have you such an interest? Do you love, live 
for, and trust in Jesus? If you have Jesus for your 
friend, you need not mind the darkness of the night 
or the severity of the storm. If you have Him on 
board, He will rise from His sleeping pillow and say, 
" Peace, be still ! " And when you come to meet death 
itself, you can descend into the dark valley without 
fear, knowing David's quietness, or triumphing like 
Paul. If you feel that the clouds return too often, 
and you are sad and weary, and would fain be gone, 
let me remind you that the rest is near. It is but a 



8 4 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



little while, and you shall hear the Bridegroom's voice. 
Listen when the sky is bright; listen when it rains; 
be ever in an attitude of expectancy, and let these 
words express your mind : — 

" So I am watching quietly 

Every day. 
Whenever the sun shines brightly, 

I rise and say: 
' Surely it is the shining of His face ! ' 
And look unto the gates of His high place 

Beyond the sea; 
For I know He is coming shortly 

To summon me. 

" And when a shadow falls across the window 

Of my room, 
Where I am working my appointed task, 
I lift my head to watch the door and ask 

If He is come ; 
And the angel answers sweetly 

In my home : 
'Only a few more shadows, 

And He will come.' " 



THE MOUNTAINS. 



Thou too, hoar mount ! with thy sky-pointing peaks, 

Oft from whose feet the avalanche, unheard, 

Shoots downward, glittering through the pure serene, 

Into the depths of clouds that veil thy breast, — 

Thou too, again, stupendous mountain ! thou, 

That as I raise my head, awhile bowed low 

In adoration, upward from thy base 

Slow travelling with dim eyes suffused with tears, 

Solemnly seemest, like a vapory cloud, 

To rise before me, — rise, oh ever rise ! 

Samuel T. Coleridge. 



VII. 



THE MOUNTAINS. 

/ will lift up ?nine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh i?iy 
help. — Psalm cxxi. i. 

SOME scholars would place a period after the word 
" hills," and make the remaining clause a ques- 
tion, — 44 From whence cometh my help?" "My help 
cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth." 
I have recently returned from a visit to the White Hills 
of New Hampshire. During my stay there the words 
of this psalm kept coming to me. Ascending from 
summit to summit, passing beyond the reach of vege- 
tation, looking down into valleys thousands of feet 
below, and seeing before and around me mountain 
piles of bleak and barren rocks, I thought of Him who 
heaped those gigantic masses, and was led to reflect, 
" Is it possible that the Being whose powerful handi- 
work I see can be my Father and my Friend? How 
strange that I, so feeble in comparison, should be 
thought more of than this immense display of creative 
power and skill ! These rocks shall perish, but I am 
to live forever ! The material universe is to be de- 
stroyed, but Christ died for me ! " 

It is well to seek the hills. Health and inspiration 
spring from change of air and change of scene. Be- 
sides, the mountains teach us moral lessons. 



83 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



It is possible that we do not heed as we ought the 
voices of Nature. We live in the midst of panoramas 
that do not fix our eye, and amid sounds that do not 
engage our attention. Here are two volumes, Nature 
and Revelation, and but little do we know of either. 
It is said that there is no language where the voice 
of Nature is not heard ; and yet to ears how dull is 
that language spoken ! It speaks of God ; but the 
heathen knew Him not, and upon us it makes but lit- 
tle impression. We read, " The heavens declare the 
glory of God," and we see the Psalmist gazing upward 
to consider the moon and the stars which God had 
ordained ; but we too little follow his example, or stop 
to behold the evidence of Deity written in the leaves 
and flowers, the rocks and streams around us. We 
are going through the world ignorant of what it con- 
tains. We behold these beautiful objects and look 
out upon this lofty scenery; but our hearts are almost 
as little touched as if there were not within us an im- 
mortal soul. The eye of an irrational animal on a 
mountain look-out sees what some men see, and ap- 
preciates it almost as much. I remember a scholarly 
gentleman who always took his seat at the end of the 
last car, that he might see the country through which 
he was passing ; and he considered it almost profane 
to read in the cars, when there was this book of Nature 
without, so much more inviting. 

Let us to-day lift up our eyes unto the hills, and 
learn from them profitable lessons. 

I. How much is said of mountains in the Bible, — 
thus putting honor upon them, and bringing them 
specially to the attention of men ! We may not have 



THE MOUNTAINS. 



8 9 



thought of it, but the Bible seems to abound with ref- 
erences to mountains. The Son of Man chose to be 
born in a hill country, — " the hill country of Judyea." 
He who made the world, honored that as the spot in 
which, with reference to His humanity, He would be 
born and reared. Amid such scenery He passed His 
life. On the mountain He preached that sermon 
known as the Sermon on the Mount. To the re- 
tirement of mountains He withdrew, and there spent 
whole nights in prayer. 

" Cold mountains and the midnight air 
Witnessed the fervor of His prayer." 

Mount Tabor was the scene of His transfiguration, 
and when His life-work was accomplished, on Mount 
Calvary He was crucified, and from Mount Olivet He 
ascended to His Father in heaven. 

The country of the Jews, which God selected as the 
place where He would gather His people, was a hill 
country. From Ur of the Chaldees God brought 
Abram to Palestine, and established his descendants 
in the possession of that land. The conquest of 
Joshua is thus described: "So Joshua took all that 
land, the hills, and all the south country, and all the 
land of Goshen, and the valley, and the plain, and the 
mountain of Israel, and the valley of the same ; even 
from the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir, even 
unto Baal-Gad in the valley of Lebanon under mount 
Hermon." The Syrians urged in explanation of their 
own defeat that the gods of Israel were gods of the 
hills. "Their gods," they said, "are gods of the hills; 
therefore they were stronger than we ; but let us 



90 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be 
stronger than they." 

How many Bible scenes are associated with moun- 
tains ! As it was a hill country in which God's people 
dwelt, it could not be otherwise. When the law was 
to be given, Moses was called into a mount, and so 
Sinai stands as the representative of that scene. Car- 
mel we associate with the memorable event in the days 
of Elijah when the four hundred false prophets were 
confounded and the people convinced by the power 
of God there displayed. Moriah was the mount up 
which Abraham led Isaac as a willing sacrifice, and on 
which afterwards the temple was built, and the Lamb 
of God, as a greater sacrifice, was offered. Hor was 
the mount which Aaron ascended, on which he put 
off his priestly robes, and laid himself down to die. 
Nebo was the mount from which Moses surveyed the 
Promised Land, and then was hidden from the gaze 
of men, no one knowing his grave. There are other 
sacred mountains, — Gilead and Hermon, Ebal and 
Gerizim, Lebanon and Horeb and Seir, with all of 
which interesting events, are connected. 

What frequent references there are to mountains 
also in the way of figure ! Mount Zion was the emi- 
nence on which the temple was placed, and so it came 
to be synonymous with the Church of God. The 
mountains round about Jerusalem were descriptive of 
God's encircling love. We say of the Church, "Walls 
of strength embrace thee round." And again and 
again the hills and mountains are referred to as illus- 
trative of Scripture truth. " The mountains shall 
bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by 



THE MOUNTAINS. 



91 



righteousness." " The stone cut out of the mountain 
without hands" is to become a great mountain, and 
fill the whole earth. "And it shall come to pass in 
the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house 
shall be established in the top of the mountains, and 
shall be exalted above the hills ; and all nations shall 
Aqw unto it." 

2. Mountains speak to us concerning the being and 
character of God. If Nature is a volume, this is a 
chapter that is particularly emphatic. All material 
things speak of the Creator, but mountains make the 
deep bass, or take the leading part, in the grand cho- 
rus ; they tell us of the power of God. We associate 
strength with elevation and massiveness ; and so we 
read, " The strength of the hills is His also." " Which 
by His strength setteth fast the mountains; being 
girded with power." Beholding those vast piles, the 
summits of which touch the skies, and which spread 
out on their broad foundations beyond the compass of 
vision, we cannot but associate with them almightiness. 
Where is the arm that could have lifted those masses 
of matter into their place, and built those monuments 
of greatness, but the arm of God? If men will deny 
creative power when they look at the starry worlds or 
contemplate Nature in its milder forms, how can they 
confront these solemn, mighty witnesses, and say there 
is no God? 

Would we have some idea of continuance and of 
the endless life of God, the hills again utter a voice. 
Jacob refers to them on his dying bed to show the 
extent of blessings promised to his son Joseph, styl- 
ing them " the everlasting hills ; " and Habakkuk in 



92 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



vision saw the Holy One, whom he thus describes: 
" He stood, and measured the earth : He beheld, and 
drove asunder the nations ; and the everlasting moun- 
tains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow : His 
ways are everlasting." Moses writes: "Lord, Thou 
hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Be- 
fore the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou 
hadst formed the earth and the world, even from ever- 
lasting to everlasting, Thou art God." As descriptive 
also of God's righteousness, the mountains serve as 
a type. The psalmist writes: "Thy mercy, O Lord, 
is in the heavens ; and Thy faithfulness reacheth unto 
the clouds. Thy righteousness is like the great moun- 
tains; Thy judgments are a great deep." 

Thus various divine attributes are suggested and 
represented by corresponding characteristics that the 
mountains exhibit. Sometimes there are grotesque 
appearances in Nature which seem as if they had 
been chiselled there by the hand of Art; and yet they 
are on so grand a scale as to awe and impress us the 
more with the creating hand of Deity. Starr King, 
in speaking of the famous Profile Mountain in the 
Franconia group, uses language something like this : 
" As tradesmen sometimes hang out huge emblems 
of their art to attract attention, — the hatter and boot- 
maker, for example, a hat or a boot, — so the great 
God has hung out in the skies the image of a man, 
a rocky face in outline, to last as long as the hills shall 
stand, to show that He makes men." God does make 
men ; and, without fancies, everything that He has 
wrought testifies of His character and skill. And thus 
the beholders of Nature without the written word are 



THE MOUNTAINS. 



93 



called into this temple of rock and mountain to recog- 
nize His presence and adore. " For the invisible 
things of Him from the creation of the world are 
clearly seen, being understood by the things that are 
made, even His eternal power and Godhead ; so that 
they are without excuse." 

3. Mountains impress us with onr own littleness. 

Since writing these words a friend has placed in my 
hands some original verses, which I here quote : 

" Once more I look upon these mountain heights, 
Firm set upon their strong, invisible piers ; 
Once more I watch the swift and varying lights 
As I have seen them in the other years, — 

" The morning glow upon each wooded crest, 
The mid-day glare beneath the August haze, 
Or evening shadows when the golden West 
Keeps as its own the day's departing rays. 

" The same, yet not the same, they come and go, 
These airy messengers so fair, so strange ; 
Old as the sun, no touch of Time they show, 
No loss of beauty in their ceaseless range. 

" While the firm hills maintain their towering sweep, 
Unharmed by summer sun or winter rime, 
Their primal force and splendor still they keep, 
And age not w r ith the passing years of Time. 

" And I, — since first my eager footsteps sought 
These circling hills and all that they enfold, 
How has Time's subtle power upon me wrought, - 
Ah ! I have learned that I am growing old. 

" Not now the unwearied nerve of other days, 

Not now the flush and strength of earlier years ; 
Within, without, are changes and decays, — 
The touch that withers, and the sky that seres. 



94 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



" A little while, and my dimmed eyes shall turn 
From all that fills them here with calm delight, 
And I with quickened vision shall discern 
The Eternal Hills and their unfading Light. 

" So lessening days but bring immortal years, 
And failing powers the life that is to be ; 
So in the human the Divine appears, 
So out of death comes Immortality." 

To climb the lofty height, to penetrate some dark 
ravine, or to gaze up at the sky from the depths of an 
immense canon, make one feel that he is of small 
account. We are humbled before' the stupendous 
forms that we see. It would seem that no dweller in 
the mountains could be proud, — that the very rocks 
would remind him of his littleness, and the lofty peaks 
would make him bow his head. It was a view of the 
physical heavens that led the Psalmist to say: " When 
I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the 
moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained ; what 
is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of 
man, that Thou visitest" him? " Again he asks, " Lord, 
what is man, that Thou takest knowledge of him ! or 
the son of man, that Thou makest account of him ! 
Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that 
passeth away. Bow Thy heavens, O Lord, and come 
down : touch the mountains, and they shall smoke." 
It is not strange that one who had the gift of genius 
should write : — 

" Above me are the Alps, 
The palaces of Nature, whose vast walls 
Have pinnacled in clouds their snowy scalps, 
And throned eternity in icy halls 



THE MOUNTAINS. 



95 



Of cold sublimity, where forms and falls 
The avalanche, — the thunderbolt of snow! 
All that expands the spirit, yet appals, 
Gathers around these summits, or to show 
How earth may pierce to heaven, yet leave vain man below." 

4. Mountains strengthen and develop manly quali- 
ties. It is commonly admitted that the mountaineer 
possesses a frank and generous character. Men that 
breast the storms of winter and breathe the pure air 
of heaven usually develop a stronger frame. Living 
in a healthful atmosphere, and learning to cope with 
difficulties and endure hardness, they become mus- 
cular, stout, and strong. And as the mind sympa- 
thizes with the body, it takes on similar characteristics. 
Who were braver than the Green Mountain Boys of 
our Revolution? And when we look for hardy char- 
acters, generous, patriotic, fearless, and strong, where 
do we find them, if not among those who have been 
reared among highland slopes or mountain fastnesses? 
The Scotch have ever been a brave people; and has 
not their country had something to do with their 
bravery? It was a mercy that our fathers were 
guided to the rugged shores of New England, where 
by severe trials a manly character for themselves and 
their descendants was formed. Sunny skies, balmy 
breezes, and spontaneous growths are enfeebling. 
The prairies of the West are grand, but they seem 
to require the strength and enterprise of the East to 
give them real value ; while the mines of the moun- 
tains are attracting new settlers, and it is possible that 
on those lofty slopes some of the hardiest and best 
portions of our population shall yet have their homes. 



9 6 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



It is remarkable that the Bible has so little to say 
concerning plains. It tells of the plains of Sodom, 
where Lot chose to' settle, rich in soil, but* occupied 
by a depraved people, and given over to destruction. 
Plains, it would seem, are far less effective in creating 
and developing a strong and noble character. Says 
one: "The plains, all save a few barren deserts of 
sand, have yielded to the occupancy of human art. 
The hills, as in the old Scriptures they are called, are 
indeed everlasting. When we have left them, they 
cannot be forgotten or removed from our thought. 
As we still feel in our nerves the motion of the sea 
after we have planted our feet on the firm land, so 
the crests and hollows of the solid globe continue to 
make themselves felt in our mind. Transferred to the 
chambers of the imagination, they stand there, a mute 
material warning against all moral narrowness and 
bigotry. Liberty and law, magnanimity and humil- 
ity, inflexible sincerity and inexhaustible bounty, are 
their lessons." 

5. Mountains foster patriotism. Love of home and 
country is stronger in those who are reared among 
the mountains. None are so slow to emigrate as the 
Swiss, the Welsh, and the Highland Scotch. Partic- 
ularly is this true of the Swiss, many of whom were 
known to die of homesickness while serving in the 
army of the First Napoleon. On the contrary, the 
dwellers in the Netherlands, or lowlands of Europe, 
have always been more ready to leave home and 
country. Who compose the wandering tribes of 
Asia but the occupants of deserts like the Bedouins 
of Arabia? Nor is it reasonable that local attach- 



THE MOUNTAINS. 



97 



ments should be as strong where there are no grand 
objects to attract the eye. With level plains and open 
sky, a home is the same, wherever one wanders. But 
amid rugged scenes, new landscapes are constantly 
appearing, and new pleasures arising to the eye. 

Moreover, those mountains stand as a lasting pro- 
test against all change. Fixed in their ancient seats, 
and resisting with their rocky sides the tooth of Time, 
they stand from age to age the same. Fit types are 
they of the Eternal ! Learning from them not to 
change, and attracted by their grandeur and their 
beauty, is it strange that those to whose eye they 
are familiar should grieve to leave them, and that, 
returning, they should behold them with the tender- 
ness and enthusiasm of old friends? 

" He who first met the Highlands' swelling blue 
Will love each peak that shows a kindred hue, 
Hail in each crag a friend's familiar face, 
And clasp the mountain in his mind's embrace." 

How tenderly does one sing ! 

" My mountain home, my mountain home ! 

Though valleys fairer lie, 
My spirit pines amid their bloom, — 

It shuts me from the sky. 
The mountains holier visions bring 

Than e'er in vales arise, 
As brightest sunshine bathes the wing 

That's nearest to the skies." 

These lessons of the mountains teach us to be 
thankful that the world is so grand and beautiful, so 
full of good, so well adapted to the wants and circum- 
stances of man, and that our country is one where we 



9 8 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



may behold some diversity in Nature, and, without 
going far, may lift up our eyes to hills that are famous 
in themselves, and that speak to us in this impressive 
manner. Fitly may we sing : — 

" My native country, thee, 
Land of the noble free. 

Thy name I love ; 
I love thy rocks and rills, 
Thy woods and templed hills ; 
My heart with rapture thrills 

Like that above." 

Then, further, we ought to adore God as the author 
of creation. Shall we live in this temple and behold 
its beauties, and never think of Him who designed and 
built it? Shall we admire the structure and glory 
in the possession, and not lift a devout or reverent 
thought to Him whose handiwork we see, and whose 
encircling Spirit breathes around us? If St. Paul's 
cathedral was the noblest monument to its great 
builder, and the reader at his tomb, for evidence of 
the architect's greatness, is directed to look around, 
shall not we, much more, in this greater temple, amid 
these lofty columns and stupendous arches, be im- 
pressed with His greatness whose hand laid the foun- 
dations of the earth and hung the drapery of the sky? 
Can we lift up our eyes and behold these monuments 
of His skill and power, and not bow down before Him 
and adore? 

Again, shall we not crave the protection of this 
Great Being? " I will lift up mine eyes," says the 
Psalmist, " unto the hills, from whence cometh my 
help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made 



THE MOUNTAINS. 



99 



heaven and earth." The thought that God made 
heaven and earth inspires confidence and hope. The 
hills speak of His power; and if the Being who piled 
them up is willing and ready to help us, how thank- 
fully may we seek His protection, and how confidently 
may we rest in His love ! Think of it ! to have One 
for your protector whose hand bears up the pillars of 
the earth ; to have One to befriend and shield you 
who loves you with a father's love, and is Himself 
almighty ! Oh ! since it is offered, can you fail of 
asking that all this power may be exerted to save and 
protect you? Or will you array it against yourself, — 
resist the omnipotent will, and go down into darkness 
and woe, calling on the mountains and rocks to fall on 
you and hide you from the face of Him that sitteth 
on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb? 

Finally, let us rejoice in Gospel grace. " For ye are 
not come unto the mount that might be touched, and 
that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, 
and tempest: . . . but ye are come unto mount Sion, 
and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Je- 
rusalem." Blessed Gospel, blessed Christ ! Rock of 
Ages ! We occupy a mount of privilege, and from this, 
if we are not deceived in our hopes, we are to be lifted 
to heights of glory ! My friends, where do you stand? 
If you are Christ's, you are finding that " the hill of 
Zion yields a thousand sacred sweets," and you are 
looking up to those higher hills from which the New 
Jerusalem is to come down, and around whose sum- 
mits gather everlasting light and joy. Oh! if we are 
Christ's, we shall ere long be upon those heights, the 
clouds beneath, and ineffable glory shining around us. 



IOO 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



Beautifully does one write : — 

" When the daily cares are ended, 

And the long day draws to its close, 
How oft to our tired spirits 

Have the mountains brought repose ! 
How calm they look in the distance, 

How peacefully they lie, — 
Sloping down to the river, 

Pointing up to the sky ! 

" But above the mountain summits, 

Beyond the starry sky, 
Some time we shall pass to a country 

In the light of God most High ; 
We shall leave behind us the sorrows 

That came with our passing years, 
And the Hand that guided our earthly lives 

Shall wipe away our tears. 

" We shall pass from our earthly mansions 

To the fields of light above, 
From the weakness of earth's affection 

To the fulness of Jesus' love ; 
And the feet so oft grown weary 

That the earthly mountains trod, 
Shall never grow weary or falter 

On 'th' eternal hills of God.'" 



THE 

PHARISEE AND THE PUBLICAN. 



It is a common saying, " If a man does not know how to pray, 
let him go to sea, and that will teach him." It is not the multi- 
tude that prevails in armies, and much less in words. And then 
for the Pharisees, whom our Saviour represents as the very vilest 
of men and the greatest of cheats, we have them amusing the 
world with pretences of a more refined devotion, while their 
heart was at that time in their neighbor's coffers. 

Robert South. 



VIII. 



THE PHARISEE AND THE PUBLICAN. 

And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in thein- 
selves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two 
7nen went up into the temple to pray ; the one a Pharisee, and 
the other a publican. The Pharisee stood a?id prayed thus 
with himself, God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other 
men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or eve7i as this pub- 
lican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I 
possess. A nd the publican, standing afar off, would not lift 
up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, 
saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man 
went down to his house justified rather than the other : for 
every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that 
hiunbleth hiins elf shall be exalted. — Luke xviii. 9-14. 

JESUS was a word-painter. He spoke by parables, 
and every parable would make a picture. To use 
a modern expression, He taught by object-lessons. 
He did not represent virtue and vice in the abstract, 
but in the concrete. He did not treat of qualities, 
but He let us see qualities in a living form. Artists 
have endeavored to express to the eye, by brush or 
pencil, many of these divine sayings. I can conceive 
cf no grander gallery than that which should thus 
group the parables of our Lord. Here we see the 
sower scattering his seed ; here the returning prodi- 
gal; here the Good Samaritan; and so on. Now we 



104 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



have before us the picture of the two men at prayer. 
It seems a reality. We go back to those times. We 
take our stand at the temple gate, and two persons 
enter to pray. One, we perceive, is a Pharisee. He 
has on his brow a frontlet, — which is a little square 
box a few inches wide, with four Scripture texts on it, 
fastened by strings on the middle of the forehead. 
He has on his left arm phylacteries, — which were lit- 
tle rolls or strips of parchment on which were written 
certain words of the law; these were wound around 
the arm, from the elbow to the middle finger. You 
note that this man's phylacteries are wider than com- 
mon, as indicating that he is a very religious man. 
The fringe, too, of his outer garment is very long, to 
show that he has great respect for the law. You know 
Christ said, " They make broad their phylacteries, and 
enlarge the borders of their garments." Thus the 
dress shows the Pharisee ; but you read it in his face. 
His bearing, his raised head, his self-righteous look, 
show to what class he belongs. If he dressed like the 
publican, you could see the Pharisee in the man's bear- 
ing. Men sometimes wear phylacteries when they 
do not think that they do. But here is the publican. 
There is nothing peculiar in his dress. Perhaps he 
has some badge upon him that indicates that he is 
one of those despised men that collect the taxes. 
He has an humble, serious, earnest look; he is com- 
ing as a penitent, to seek relief in prayer. He does 
not observe the Pharisee, though the Pharisee sees 
him, despises him, and would not have entered with 
him if he could have helped it. Thus there come 
through the temple gate Haughtiness and Humility, 



THE PHARISEE AND THE PUBLICAN. 105 

Pride and Penitence. They stop not in the outer 
court of the Gentiles, for both are Jews, but come 
into the inner court, where the Jews commonly wor- 
shipped. Here they stand apart, as if not fit to wor- 
ship side by side. The Pharisee wishes to get as far 
as possible from the publican, that he may not be 
defiled. The publican, from a great sense of unwor- 
thiness, shrinks, as if into a corner, stays back, and 
dares not come nearer to the holy place. We read, 
"The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself," 
or stood by himself, choosing a position apart; " and 
the publican standing afar off," — that is, as far as pos- 
sible from the sanctuary, which contained the golden 
candlestick, the table of showbread, and the altar of 
incense, and which the Pharisee was self-righteous 
enough to come very near to. 

Perhaps you never thought of it before, but if you 
look in your Bibles you will see that the word "Phari- 
see" is spelled with a large " P," and the word "pub- 
lican" with a little " p," as if indicating how much 
bigger one felt than the other. The whole work of 
conversion may be said to consist in getting a man 
to consent to spell his piety with a little " p " instead 
of a big one. 

Now they are going to pray. Hark ! it is the Phari- 
see: " God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men 
are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this 
publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all 
that I possess." Did you notice how loud he prayed, 
and how straight he stood? He wanted to tell all 
around how good he was, as well as to tell God. This 
is the man you saw the other day on the corner of the 



106 BELIEVING AND DOING. 

streets praying, to be seen of men. He speaks very 
loud, and tells }/ou all about himself; for he wants you 
to understand that he is very pious. Pray ! That 
was no prayer! What did he pray for? It was one 
long boast. He did not ask God for anything; he 
did not confess guilt or dependence ; he even claimed 
that he possessed goodness, and was entirely right. 
He set himself up as better than others ; he had not 
their vices, and was a very religious man besides. 
When he began, it seemed as if he would end well. 
The prayer gave good promise, at least in the first few 
words, " God, I thank Thee ; " but what followed, nulli- 
fied and spoiled it. Note the arrogance of the man. 
He condemns others by the wholesale. He puts him- 
self in the one scale, and the rest of men in the other, 
and rejoices that he is better than all. He says : 
"They are extortioners, unjust, adulterers; but I am 
not one of them." What is there to show that he is not, 
except his own assertion? And if he would weigh 
himself as God weighs men, — by desires, looks, and 
thoughts, — might he not see that, offending in one 
point, he was guilty of all? And did he not know that 
he belonged to a class whom, on account of their great 
wickedness, Jesus severely denounced? He has lost 
sight of the fact that there are two tables of the law, — 
that love to God cannot be substituted for duties to 
men, or duties to men for love to God. You cannot 
keep one table and neglect the other. Religious ob- 
servances cannot take the place of gentleness, truthful- 
ness, honesty, and fair dealing with men ; nor upright- 
ness with men take the place of piety and prayer 
with God. We have to read through the two tables 



THE PHARISEE AND THE PUBLICAN. 10? 



together, — four duties to God on one, six to men on 
the other. Or perhaps this Pharisee made the dis- 
tinction, and intended to sweep the field in his prayer. 
He disposes of his duties to men by looking at others, 
and blessing God that he is not as bad as they. And 
now, under duties to God, he pleads : " I fast twice in 
the week; I give tithes of all that I possess." Was he 
not very pious? He even went beyond the letter of 
the law. That required but one annual fast, — on the 
great day of atonement; but he besides kept a private 
fast twice each week, on Monday and Thursday, 
according to the custom of that time. You remember 
Christ accused the Pharisees of fasting, to be seen of 
men. That is why this man fasted twice in a week ; 
and now he is telling the public of it in his prayer. 
He also says : " I give tithes of all that I possess." 
Plere too he went beyond the letter of the law. He 
says : " Tithes of all that I possess." The law re- 
quired that only the increase of the fields, flocks, and 
herds should be tithed. It was not necessary to give 
a tenth of the property; only a tenth of the income 
was required. Perhaps it is the property that he 
meant. If so, he seems to speak in a way to recom- 
mend himself particularly to God. He says, " of all 
that I possess," whether of property or income. And 
so he ends his prayer, soliloquizing on what a good 
man he is. 

Now let us listen to the publican's prayer. We 
can hardly hear him, he speaks so low. He stands, — 
for that was the common attitude of prayer, — but he 
will not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, and 
smites upon his breast, saying, " God be merciful to 



io8 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



me a sinner ! " His manner is quiet, yet earnest. He 
does not wish to attract the attention of men, but he 
does wish to get the ear of God. One prays to the 
audience, and is satisfied if men hear; the other prays 
to Him who 'alone can read the heart and answer the 
desires of the soul. You heard the prayer. Did you 
observe how short it was? The prayer of the Pharisee 
was short for him ; he would have been glad to make 
it longer. Jesus said of such, " Ye for a pretence 
make long prayers." But the publican's prayer was 
still shorter. It was simple, direct, earnest. He asked 
for what he wanted, and stopped. Necessity begets 
brevity. One word is sometimes enough : " Help ! " 
"Help!" "Fire!" "Fire!" Peter when sinking in the 
water cried, " Lord, save me, or I perish ! " It was 
enough. The dying thief cried, " Lord, remember me 
when Thou comest into Thy kingdom ! " His prayer 
was answered. The prayer of the publican has come 
to be the prayer and motto of many a penitent soul 
since his day. The distinguished Hugo Grotius, of 
Holland, when dying, away from his home, was waited 
on by an unknown minister, w T ho referred him to this 
parable and prayer of the publican. His response was, 
" This publican am I ! " Oh that some among you 
might even now say, " This publican am I ! " Nor is 
it necessary to offer a prayer so long. One word 
might suffice; and if you could not speak, you might 
throw your whole soul even into a look. " Look unto 
Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." 
Nought was required of the Jews in the wilderness, 
dying from the bite of the fiery serpents, but a look. 
It is not the length of the prayer that avails, but the 



THE PHARISEE AND THE PUBLIC AX. 1 09 

heart that is in it. Let the eve turn towards the 
Saviour and rest lovingly on Him, and salvation 
is yours. 

Notice, further, the spirit of this man. How humble 
he is ! He is one to whom the promise relates: " To 
this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of 
a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word." It was the 
Pharisee's pride that spoiled his prayer; it is pride that 
keeps most men from Christ now. Humility is the 
basal grace; it is at the beginning of the beatitudes. 
But some men offer the Pharisee's prayer, not the pub- 
lican's. They say, " How good I am ! " not, " Have 
mercy on me a sinner ! " The self-righteous, pharisaic 
spirit is the common sin. But to come to God accept- 
ably, we must say, " In my hands no price I bring." 
Concede that a man is very correct in his private life 
and very constant in religious observances ; more is 
needed. He must see the estrangement of his soul 
from God, feel his unworthiness, and accept salvation 
as a free gift. You note that the publican confesses his 
sinfulness and pleads for mercy. " God be merciful 
to me a sinner" It \spardon he sues for, — pardon, not 
justice. We are told that " One morning a beautiful 
girl, fourteen years of age, presented herself alone at 
the gate of one of the palaces of France. It was when 
the First Napoleon was Consul. Her tears and woe 
moved the keeper, a kind-hearted man, to admit her. 
She found her way to the presence of Napoleon as 
he was passing through one of the apartments, accom- 
panied by several of his ministers. In a delirium of 
emotion the child rushed to his feet and exclaimed, 
1 Pardon, Sire ! pardon for my father ! ' ' And who is 



no 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



your father?' said Napoleon kindly; 'who are you?' 
'I am Miss Lajolia,' she replied ; ' and my father is 
doomed to die.' ' Ah, Miss!' said Napoleon, 'but 
this is the second time in which your father has con- 
spired against the State. I can do nothing for you.' 
'Alas, Sire !' the poor child exclaimed, 'I know it; 
but the first time papa was innocent, and to-day I do 
not ask for justice, I implore pardon, pardon for 
him ! ' Napoleon's lips trembled, tears filled his eyes, 
and taking the little hand of the child in both of his, 
he tenderly pressed it, and said, * Well, my child, yes. 
For your sake I will forgive your father.' " That is 
the plea that we have to bring before God, — pardon, 
pardon; not justice, right, claim, — pardon, pardon. 
But the unrenewed man straightens himself up before 
God, and says: "I will not beg pardon; I must be 
saved on my merits ; I will not call myself a sinner." 
But " he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." 
We must come down, to go up; we must become as 
little children y if we would enter into the kingdom of 
heaven. 

It is astonishing that men are so reluctant to take the 
publican's position, when it is the surest way to God, 
and leads to the highest exaltation. The first requi- 
site is a sense of sin. There must be consciousness 
of guilt before we ask for pardon; appreciation of 
danger before we cry for assistance. Man's extremity 
is God's opportunity. When we feel that we are lost, 
then help comes. We are to look at the answer to 
these prayers, and notice the use that Jesus made of 
the parable, to perceive that the grand requirement in 
the case of all is an humble, contrite, broken heart. 



THE PHARISEE AND THE PUBLICAN. HI 



Hear what the Great Teacher says : " I tell you, this 
man" — the publican, whose prayer we have just 
heard — " went down to his house justified rather than 
the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall 
be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be 
exalted." 

We seem to see the two men returning now from 
the place of prayer. The Pharisee retains the same 
hard and boastful look. Prayer has brought no peace 
to his soul; he carries in his heart a burden which 
outward observances cannot remove. He is trying 
to justify himself by the deeds of the law, and he finds 
that these are a galling and heavy yoke. The publi- 
can looks not so sad as when he entered the temple 
gate. He has received an answer, his sin is pardoned, 
and he is going home with a light heart. He heard, 
and he has accepted that invitation : " Come unto Me, 
all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give 
you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; 
for I am meek and lowly in heart : and ye shall find 
rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My 
burden is light." So he finds it; and you see the joy 
of pardoned sin, of acceptance with God, of a saving 
hope speaking in his countenance and glowing in his 
eyes. " I tell you, "says Jesus, "this man went down 
to his house justified rather than the other: for every 
one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that 
humbleth himself shall be exalted." 

The prayer of the publican is an epitome of the 
Gospel. It is spoken of, to use theological terms, 
as " a compendium of theology, hamartology, soteri- 
ology, and a striking proof that repentance and faith 



112 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



are inseparable from one another." That is, analyz- 
ing the prayer, it directs us to God ; it also speaks of 
sin and of redemption. It is a prayer. It proclaims 
our relations to God. It declares that He is merciful 
and that we are sinful. It brings the soul before its 
Maker in the true attitude, and recognizes that for- 
giveness is an act of sovereign mercy. " By grace are 
ye saved through faith." 

We are to learn from this parable that self-abase- 
ment is the great prerequisite to conversion, to 
pardon and justification. A self-righteous spirit is 
displeasing to God, is a bar to His favor, and a hin- 
drance to salvation. A man may be orthodox in his 
belief ; may admit all that is contained in the articles 
of a Church; may be able to defend the doctrines 
of his Church; may have a strong and capacious 
mind, — and yet orthodoxy will not save him. He may 
be a great stickler for the ritual ; may tithe all manner 
of herbs, as well as the fruit of the fields, — mint, anise, 
and cummin ; may keep fasts, say prayers, adore the 
Church, and even " build synagogues," — and yet love 
of the Church will not save him. He may be a good 
moral man, reliable in business, kind in his family, a 
pillar in society, — honored, loved, praised by all; and 
yet goodness, integrity, and high standing will not 
save him. If these will, then where is there place for 
Christ? What will save him? The spirit and prayer 
of the publican, or Christ in answer to that prayer. 
Let him lay down orthodoxy, Church observances, 
and outward morality, and offer no plea but this, " God 
be merciful to me a sinner ! " and he will get peace, 
and be a saved man. 



THE PHARISEE AND THE PUBLICAN. 1 13 



Oh, how simple is this matter of salvation ! How 
easy it is to go down to our houses justified, now 
that we see the way ! In a certain parish was an 
intelligent gentleman who held an office under the 
State. He was a constant attendant at church, had 
a pious wife, had been religiously, brought up, and 
ever manifested an outward respect for religion. In 
a time of religious interest he was present at every 
evening meeting. Still he held back ; and whenever 
an opportunity was given to those who wished to be 
prayed for to rise, he would never rise. He was a 
man of few words, and to anything that was said to 
him he would make but a brief reply. The meetings 
had been held for some time, quite a number had 
expressed hope, many were anxious and asking to be 
prayed for; but he never would rise. At length, at 
the close of a solemn meeting, the request was made 
that all persons in the house, professors of religion, 
and all who wished to be prayed for in the prayer to 
be offered, should rise. This man kept his seat: it 
was God's method of piercing his heart. The prayer 
by accident — was it not God's Spirit so directing? — 
said, " We pray for those who are standing, not for 
those who are sitting," — suggested, perhaps, by Christ's 
prayer, " I pray not for the world," and justified by 
it. The benediction was pronounced, and the meet- 
ing closed. This man walked in silence by the side 
of his wife to his home. She went to her room and 
prayed for him, leaving him with his Bible alone. At 
length he came to her and said, " Wife, I feel that I 
have done wrong; I do want to be prayed for." He 
saw and felt that by his act he had shut himself out 

8 



U4 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



from the prayers of God's people. He was in great 
distress, but retired. He could not sleep, and hence 
arose, and spent the whole night in reading his Bible 
and pleading for mercy. In the early morning there 
was a ring at the pastor's door. It was announced 
that this gentleman had called, and that something 
dreadful must have happened. When the pastor en- 
tered the room, the caller, taking him- by the hand, 
said, "I do want to be prayed for; I did not mean 
to be left out last night." A conversation followed. 
The pastor found that the caller was ready to give 
up all for Christ ; and when asked to pray, he knelt 
right there and prayed, " God be merciful to me a 
sinner ! " That was all, he said no more ; but the 
burden seemed lifted from his soul. Like the pub- 
lican he seemed to come, and like the publican he 
seemed to go. That night he confessed Christ in the 
meeting. The next Sabbath he showed himself in the 
Sabbath-school, where he said he had not been for 
many years. At his request the hymn, " I was a wan- 
dering sheep," was sung. At the next communion he 
united with the church, and soon became one of its 
most useful and influential members. You are not to 
expect to be converted as this man was, or to obtain a 
Christian hope as he did ; but you must have that 
spirit which shall lead you to become a praying man, 
and to pray, not with boasting, but contrition ; not 
like the proud Pharisee, " God, I thank thee that I am 
not as other men are ! " but like the penitent publican, 
— " God be merciful to me a sinner! " 



YOUR SIN WILL FIND YOU OUT. 



Perhaps some of the Puritan fathers may have gone too far, 
and have given too great a prominence to the terrors of the Lord 
in their ministry; but the age in which we live has sought to 
forget those terrors altogether ; and if we dare to tell men that 
God will punish them for their sins, it is charged upon us that 
we want to bully them into religion ; and if we faithfully and 
honestly tell our hearers that sin must bring after it certain 
destruction, it is said that we are attempting to frighten them 
into goodness. 

Charles H. Spurgeon. 



IX. 



YOUR SIN WILL FIND YOU OUT. 



Be sure your sin will find you out. — Numbers xxxii. 23. 



/ T HAT Moses said to the children of Reuben 



human family. We seem to be living in a carnival 
of crime ; the world is very wicked. Stupendous de- 
falcations follow one another in rapid succession ; we 
know not what to look for next; and men are losing 
confidence in one another. We are told that a bank 
president after a noted robbery said : "I'm sick of 
this rascally world. Don't want to see or do business 
with anybody. F d rather be an old farmer living on 
a cross-road four miles from everybody, than have 
anything to do with banks, money, or men." 

The text lifts a voice of warning. It asserts the 
general truth that all wrong-doing is reactionary; it 
"finds out'' the transgressor, and sometimes it finds 
him out with terrible effect. 

1. This is true physically. No natural law may be 
broken with impunity. Nature is very exacting, and 
will have its " pound of flesh." It is impossible to 
abuse the body and not, sooner or later, suffer the 
consequences. The penalties of natural law are as 
certain as fate. The gourmand may find a present 




and Gad is in some sense addressed to the 



n8 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



pleasure in glutting his appetite, but by and by disease 
and dreadful suffering will settle in his frame. "Pay- 
day is sure to come! " The inebriate may delight in 
the intoxicating cup, but it will lead him to poverty, 
wretchedness, and a drunkard's grave. Sensual indul- 
gence may attract with promises of secrecy and delight, 
but over a flowery path it leads to infamy, degrada- 
tion, and ruin. It is a common remark that the sins of 
youth bear fruit in old age. But great sins do not wait 
for old age ; they make a man prematurely old, and 
send him to an early grave. Thus does Nature assert 
that there is a limit to the use of our powers. 

Nor may we transgress in ways that are counted 
honest and reputable. All undue exertions of strength 
are sure to have their reaction. Athletic games may 
be harmful, and late hours, with many social customs, 
serve to undermine the physical frame. Student life 
is sometimes envied, and devotion to science regarded 
as a justifiable passion; but inordinate fires, as in the 
case of Kirke White, consume the delicate structure 
in which they are kindled. All over-work is harmful, 
whether in the store or office, in the kitchen or on the 
farm. In cities particularly we have examples of the 
infringement of natural laws, and of the punishment 
that is sure to follow. Not only among the lower 
classes, but also in the higher walks, these examples 
are seen. In the methods of business fearful draughts 
are made upon the strength and time. There are few 
men who are not tempted to over-exertion; and the 
sudden breaking down of one and another, as seen in 
paralysis, insanity, brain-disease, and premature age, 
asserts the law and proclaims a warning. It is base to 



YOUR SIN WILL FIND YOU OUT. 119 

be a glutton, a drunkard, or a debauchee; but our bod- 
ies ought not to receive any unnecessary strain, either 
from work, study, society, or business. These bodies 
are, or should be, temples of the Holy Ghost; and we 
are put in charge of them, not to abuse, but to preserve 
and keep them for the honor and service of God. 

2. Sin finds out the evil-doer by the power of con- 
science. As in the physical frame there are instincts that 
warn of danger ; as we cannot come near the fire, for 
example, without the sense of heat or burning, — so in 
our moral constitution there are painful excitements as 
we come near to or engage in wrong-doing. Every hu- 
man being is possessed of a moral sense ; and this moral 
sense torments a man when he goes astray. It may 
even reveal the crime that he had thought concealed. 
To one it gives troubled dreams, and in the mutterings 
of the night perhaps discloses a deed of blood. An- 
other it fills with remorse and shame, and tortures to 
confession, or perhaps to a fourfold restitution. We 
meet with cases of " conscience money," — money that 
conscience makes a man disgorge. Another it haunts 
with terror, and drives to suicide. It is said, " Murder 
will out," — better as in the text, " Sin will out." The 
words of Daniel Webster are often quoted: "The 
guilty soul cannot keep its own secret. It is false to 
itself; or rather it feels an irresistible impulse to be 
true to itself. It labors under its guilty possession, 
and knows not what to do with it. The human heart 
was not made for the residence of such an inhabitant. 
It finds itself preyed on by a torment which it does 
not acknowledge to God or man. A vulture is de- 
vouring it, and it can ask no sympathy or assistance 



120 



BELIE VING AND DOING. 



either from heaven or earth. The secret he possesses 
soon comes to possess him; and, like the evil spirits of 
which we read, it overcomes him, and leads him whith- 
ersoever it will. He feels it beating at his heart, rising 
to his throat, and demanding disclosure. He thinks 
the whole world sees it in his face, reads it in his eyes, 
and almost hears its workings in the very silence of 
his thoughts. It has become his master. It betrays 
his discretion, it breaks down his courage, it conquers 
his prudence. When suspicions from without begin 
to embarrass him, and the net of circumstance to 
entangle him, the fatal secret struggles with still 
greater violence to burst forth. It must be confessed, 
it will be confessed ; there is no refuge from confession 
but suicide, and suicide is confession." 

Nor if the heart be hard, and the sensibilities torpid, 
is conscience therefore dead. Many are the instances 
where this slumbering power, like a smouldering fire, 
has burst forth into new flames. Take the case of 
Joseph's brethren. They had sold him into slavery, 
and counted him as dead. But when in famishing 
need they went down into Egypt, and troubles thick- 
ened and hemmed them in, then, though it was twenty 
years after, " They said one to another, We are verily 
guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the 
anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we 
would not hear ; therefore is this distress come upon 
us." Thus did sin find them out after so long a time ! 
Nor can we conceive of a more tormenting hell than 
conscience will enkindle in men's souls. It is not 
necessary that there should be literal flames ; the soul 
let loose on itself is more tormenting than physical fire* 



YOUR SIN WILL FIND YOU OUT. 121 

3. Sin finds out the wrong-doer in the providence 
of God. God does not suffer wicked men to escape. 
Even in this life they are likely to be exposed and 
punished. There are watchers and whisperers, as 
if around them God's detectives proclaim their guilt, 
and say, " This is the man ! " Even when they think 
they have found a place of security, God lays His 
hand upon it and pulls it down. Says the wise 
man : " Evil pursueth sinners." It runs after them ; 
they are like a hare hunted by the hound. What 
frequent instances of avenging justice we have in the 
Bible ! When guilty Cain turned from his deed of 
blood, what fear and astonishment must have seized 
him as he heard that Voice calling after him, " What 
hast thou done?" The sin of Achan found out the 
perpetrator of it in a singular manner and with ter- 
rible results. At the taking of Jericho he stole a 
Babylonish garment, two hundred shekels of silver, 
and a wedge of gold. Though he covered these up 
in the earth under his tent, yet he could not cover up 
his crime. It was charged to Israel, hindered them in 
the taking of Ai, and was at length disclosed by lot. 
" And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the 
son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the 
wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his 
oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all 
that he had. . . . And all Israel stoned him with 
stones, and burned them with fire." 

The story of Abimelech reveals another instance of 
avenging justice. He had slain his seventy brethren, 
and usurped kingly power; but note the history: 
" When Abimelech had reigned three years over 



122 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



Israel, then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech 
and the men of Shechem ; and the men of Shechem 
dealt treacherously with Abimelech." A conspiracy- 
arose ; Abimelech assailed the tower of Thebez ; a 
woman from the top cast a piece of millstone upon 
his head, breaking the skull. Then he called to his 
armor-bearer and said, " Draw thy sword, and slay me, 
that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And 
his young man thrust him through, and he died. . . . 
Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, 
which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy 
brethren." The story of Ahab and Jezebel furnishes 
a like illustration (i Kings xxi. 19-23). 

So of Amalek. If judgments are not swift, they are 
sure. In Exodus xvii. 14 we read: " And the Lord 
said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, 
and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua : for I will ut- 
terly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under 
heaven." Amalek had fought with Israel in Rephidim. 
It was when Joshua commanded the army, and Moses 
prayed upon the hill-top, his two arms being sustained 
by Aaron and Hur. Amalek was discomfited ; and this 
is the fearful decree of extermination and extinction 
that the Lord directs Moses to write and preserve in 
a book. We follow down the track of history, and look 
for the fulfilment of this decree one hundred, two hun- 
dred, three hundred, four hundred years; but Amalek 
is still alive. And now we turn to 1 Samuel xv. 3, 
and read: " Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly 
destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but 
slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox 
and sheep, camel and ass." Thus a sentence pro- 



YOUR SIN WILL FIND YOU OUT. 



123 



nounced in the days of Moses was executed in the 
time of Samuel, — more than four hundred years after. 
The Almighty seems sometimes to hold the arrow 
upon the string in the bow, and then lets it fly. 

Nor are illustrations of this kind found only in the 
Bible. The Goddess of Retribution lives for aye, 
holds her court in every age, and summons to her bar 
all gross transgressors. Darkness and death cannot 
hide guilt; even the grave reveals secrets, and dead 
men do sometimes tell tales. When the hand of the 
Almighty searches after a man, he cannot flee. 

I know an instance where a grave disclosed a crime. 
It was many years ago. A man of wealth died, and 
the family employed a jeweller to prepare a plate for 
the coffin. They wished the plate to be of solid silver, 
and furnished the jeweller sixteen English crowns — in 
value about twenty dollars — of which to construct the 
plate. They also paid him three dollars for his ser- 
vices. The funeral was held and the man was buried. 
Many years after, the descendants of the deceased 
man, wishing to have the dead of their family buried 
together, caused his remains to be taken up and laid in 
a new plat in the cemetery. On opening the grave, it 
was found that the jeweller had defrauded the family, 
furnishing a copper plate instead of a silver one. He 
thought, no doubt, that his evil deed would be buried 
with the dead; but after he was himself dead, thus did 
Providence bring his iniquity to light. 

4. Sin will find out the evil-doer at the judgment. 
If not before, it will find him out then. If he go all 
his life unpunished, flourishing like a green bay-tree, 
drinking of stolen waters, and uninterrupted in a single 



124 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



course of crime, the day of retribution will neverthe- 
less come. The present is not a complete system of 
rewards and punishments ; the final adjustment is to 
come. God may give to some men a long tether, but 
He will no less certainly draw them in. Common- 
sense, as well as the Bible, teaches that there must be 
a day of future recompense. Reason is too consistent 
with herself to believe that good and bad shall come 
out alike in the other world. Even Universalists have 
abandoned their old ground, and now hold to the 
doctrine of restoration ; that is, that after some punish- 
ment in the future, men will be raised to a state of purity 
and happiness. A Universalist writer says : " Some 
excellent brethren, — men in the pulpit, and men out 
of it, — adopting a new and current political phrase, 
are urging our people, in this dawn of the second cen- 
tury of our Church, to take a new departure ; to dis- 
card, it would almost seem, some of the theological 
positions we have hitherto maintained, and place our 
denomination, before the world, at least, upon other 
and different grounds. In some quarters it has been 
intimated that we must especially repudiate the dogma 
that sin is born of the body or perishes with it, and 
the connected position that there is no future punish- 
ment for present sin, and no moral connection between 
this life and the life to come. The implication would 
appear to be that we must come out squarely, and 
preach future punishment, not only to take away our 
reproach, but to give our gospel moral power, and 
turn men from sin to righteousness of life." Thus 
even Universalists are coming to see the necessity for 
a judgment to come. I say, then, sin will find out the 



YOUR SIN WILL FIND YOU OUT. 



12$ 



evil-doer at the last assize, if not before. You may 
be indulging in sin now, thinking to conceal and enjoy 
it ; but it should startle you when your ear hears, or 
your eye lights upon, such passages as these : " In the 
day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus 
Christ." " For nothing is secret, that shall not be 
made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not 
be known and come abroad." " For God shall bring 
every work into judgment, with every secret thing, 
whether it be good, or whether it be evil." 

Now let us make this subject practical, and apply 
it as deterring from the commission of sin. Whatever 
wrong-doing you are practising, let the words ring out 
around you : " Be sure your sin will find you out ! " In 
every unfair advantage you take of another, in every 
evil purpose, in every impure thought, in every passion- 
ate or vile utterance, in every lustful suggestion from 
filthy books or obscene pictures, in every indulgence 
of a disordered appetite, do not forget, " Your sin will 
find you out ! " In trade and traffic, on 'change, in 
store and office, whenever you are tempted to take un- 
due advantage of ignorance or weakness, read these 
words ! Over the door of the saloon where the in- 
toxicating cup is mingled, read these words ! On 
the walls of the house of sin, where none but the fool 
enters, read these words ! The very thought that 
God's omniscient eye is on you should restrain you 
from every path of evil. How do you know but that 
the slightest circumstance shall be made to betray 
your guilt, to be followed by degradation, remorse, and 
ruin? How do you know but that in some startling 



126 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



manner God will arrest you in the very act of crime? 
His detectives are on the alert. The Hand that con- 
trols all forces and sustains all things may touch some 
spring that shall suddenly entrap you. A young man 
belonging to one of the most respectable families in 
Connecticut having fallen into unsteady habits, was sus- 
pected of crimes against the State. He was once under 
arrest for passing counterfeit money, but forfeited his 
bonds and escaped. We are told that " on a Sunday 
night he broke into a store in the village, where he had 
once been a clerk, and brought out various articles of 
merchandise, which he placed in an empty wagon that 
he had stolen and drawn to the door. Having filled 
the wagon, he went to a stable and attempted to lead 
out a valuable horse belonging to the man from whom 
he had stolen the goods, intending to harness it to the 
wagon and make off with his booty in the stillness of 
the night. Just at that moment when he thought no 
eye could see and no ear hear, the bell from the village 
church tower sounded out an alarm loud and clear, 
startling the inhabitants from their slumbers and hur- 
rying them into the streets. They took it to be an 
alarm of fire. Rushing out, they discovered the rob- 
bery and caught the thief before he had time to 
escape. But who rang that bell? That was the mys- 
tery. Upon inquiry it was ascertained that the sexton, 
in ringing the bell for the church service the day be- 
fore, had by a seeming accident so turned it up and 
set it that he could not pull it down with the rope ; 
and not having a key to the belfry, he was obliged to 
let the bell remain in that position. Just in time to 
detect thai: youthful criminal, it came down without 



YOUR SIN WILL FIND YOU OUT. 



12/ 



human help, and sounded that midnight alarm. After 
the arrest of the young man goods were found in his 
possession that had been taken from a store in another 
village, and he confessed that with the aid of an ac- 
complice he had also broken into it and stolen several 
hundred dollars' worth of merchandise. Thus the 
ringing of that bell without human hands brought 
several criminal offences to light, and arrested the 
offender in his dishonest career." Do you beware 
lest, falling into temptation and yielding thereto, some 
bell of providence proclaim your sin and shame. 

The text teaches us the importance of looking 
into our hearts and examining ourselves, that we may 
overcome the first approaches of evil, — as Matthew 
Henry expresses it, " To find our sins out, that we 
may repent of and forsake them, lest they find us out, 
as they certainly will, to our ruin and confusion." It 
is impossible that any of us should know how sinful we 
are. With man we may stand well ; but how do we 
stand in the sight of a pure and holy God? There are 
sins of omission as well as of commission. There are 
duties not done that may weigh upon our soul. Oh, 
this dead body of sin ! How shall we escape from it? 
Is there a way of relief? " I thank God, through 
Jesus Christ our Lord." My friends, I point you to 
the Saviour as the world's great remedy for sin. Sin 
is devilish, destructive, and must be punished; but 
Jesus died to rescue us from its guilt and power. 
Look to Him, then, and live; lay your sins on Him, 
and He will give you back Himself and everlasting 
joy. 



SAUL MADE KING. 



9 



There used to be a children's book which bore the fascinat- 
ing title of " The Chance World." It described a world in which 
everything happened by chance. The sun might rise or it might 
not; or it might appear at any hour, or the moon might come up 
instead. For every day antecedent and consequent varied, and 
gravitation and everything else changed from hour to hour. In 
this chance world, cause and effect were abolished ; law was anni- 
hilated ; and the result to the inhabitants of such a world could 
only be that reason would be impossible. 

Henry Drummond. 



X. 



SAUL MADE KING. 



Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul 
came, saying, To morrow about this time I will send thee a 
man out of the land of Betijamin, and thou shall anoint him 
to be captain over My people Israel. — i Sam. ix. 15, 16. 

TTOR hundreds of years after Moses, the Israelites 



X were governed by judges. Samuel was the last 
judge. The time had come when the people desired a 
king. The elders presented themselves before Sam- 
uel, and said, " Make us a king to judge us like all the 
nations." The circumstances under which their re- 
quest was granted are full of interest. In Gibeah of 
Benjamin, about six miles from Jerusalem, lived a 
herdsman by the name of Kish. He is spoken of as 
a man of " power," or substance. This man had a 
son, who in respect to features and form was without 
an equal. But this son had attained to man's estate 
wholly unconscious of the destiny that awaited him. 
He may have known of the wish of the people to 
have a king, but he little dreamed that he was to be 
that king. It is not probable that the range of his 
ambition extended beyond the limits of his father's 
farm. 

Let us glance at the history. 




132 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



The asses of Kish, Saul's father, had strayed, and 
Saul, in company with a servant, was sent to find them. 
For three days they travelled over miles of country 
in a fruitless search. At length, coming to the land 
of Zuph, Saul despaired, and said, " Come, and let us 
return ; lest my father leave caring for the asses, and 
take thought for us." The servant suggested that 
there was not far away a prophet, or seer, who could 
show them the way. • Saul objected that they had 
nothing to give the man of God. The servant re- 
plied, " I have here at hand the fourth part of a 
shekel of silver; " and with this they went to Ramah. 
Young maidens met them at the public well, and told 
them where they should find the prophet. As they 
went, Samuel met them, and the Lord said to Samuel, 
" Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same 
shall reign over My people." So confidently had 
Samuel expected Saul that he had assembled a com- 
pany of about thirty persons; " and he brought Saul 
and his servant into the parlor, and made them sit in 
the chiefest place among them that were bidden." He 
had even caused a shoulder of meat to be cooked for 
the occasion, and a portion reserved for his distin- 
guished guest, saying, " Unto this time hath it been 
kept for thee since I said, I have invited the people." 
After a season of communing, Samuel accompanied 
Saul abroad. It was about " the spring of the day." 
" And as they were going down to the end of the city, 
Samuel said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, 
(and he passed on,) but stand thou still a while, that I 
may show thee the word of God. Then Samuel took 
a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed 



SAUL MADE KING. 



133 



him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath 
anointed thee to be captain over His inheritance? " 
Can we imagine the astonishment that must have 
possessed Saul? He sought for asses, and he lighted 
on a crown ! 

1. The history impresses us with the fact of cm 
overriding Providence. To the sceptic these circum- 
stances were the work of chance. It happened that 
the asses strayed, and could not be found, and that 
Saul was directed to Samuel. . But the text declares 
that the Lord told Samuel a day in advance that this 
man was coming. " Now the Lord had told Samuel 
in his ear a day before Saul came, saying, To morrow 
about this time I will send thee a man out of the land 
of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be cap- 
tain over My people Israel." Observe : " I will send." 
How little Saul knew that a Higher Power was urging 
him on ! 

It is plain, then, that chance had nothing to do with 
Saul's fortune. Those animals strayed not of their 
own motion. A divine influence impelled them. 
They wandered not into places of their own choosing; 
for then they might have been found, and Saul would 
have returned to his father. It was not chance that 
led that particular servant to accompany Saul, for it 
was by him that Saul was directed to Samuel. It 
was not chance that kept them wandering for three 
days in a fruitless search; for the exact time was 
fixed when they should meet Samuel. It was not 
chance that led the servant to think of the seer who 
could show them the way. And when the question of 
their going turned on the point of their having any- 



134 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



thing to give the man of God, it was not chance that 
provided for the need and disclosed to the servant the 
fourth part of a shekel of silver in his possession. 
Nor was it chance that guided their feet aright, till 
they actually stood before the man of God, and the 
great crowning end of their mission was accomplished. 
I say we see running, through this whole transaction a 
remarkable providence. See Saul ready to abandon the 
search. Hear him saying, "Come, and let us return; 
lest my father leave caring for the asses, and take 
thought for us." But how impossible thus to frustrate 
the plan of God ! Little thought he that an Omnipo- 
tent Will was moving him onward ! 

But while the Lord is thus influencing Saul, we see 
Him, on the other hand, revealing His purpose to Sam- 
uel. He tells him that Saul is to come, and mentions 
the hour of his coming. And so confidently does 
Samuel expect Saul that he assembles a company 
and has a feast provided against his arrival ! 

Thus do all the parts of God's providence work 
together. Wheel fits wheel, and throughout the 
great system harmony prevails. The Divine govern- 
ment receives no jar; no purpose of God fails of 
fulfilment. 

My friends, "There is a Divinity that shapes our 
ends." It was God who raised up Saul from his hum- 
ble position and made him to sit upon a throne, wield- 
ing a royal sceptre. And it is God who appoints to all 
men their time and place. " The Lord killeth, and 
maketh alive: He bringeth down to the grave, and 
bringeth up. The Lord maketh poor, and maketh 
rich: He bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up 



SAUL MADE KING. 



135 



the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from 
the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make 
them inherit the throne of glory." Every man's life is 
a plan of God. We do not understand how it is ; but 
the fact we are compelled to recognize. Somehow we 
are influenced and controlled ; and yet we know that 
we are perfectly free. We cannot charge our wrong- 
doing upon God. Nor will Society accept the excuse 
that the criminal could not do otherwise. The deter- 
minate counsel and foreknowledge of God did not miti- 
gate the unequalled crime of Judas ; nor did it occur to 
Judas that he could offer this plea, for had it occurred 
to him, he would not have gone and hanged himself. 
Not only does God's word assert His sovereignty, 
but individual and national history likewise assert it. 
Almost every person is conscious of an Overruling 
Power. Matthew Henry remarks : " He that will 
observe providences, shall have providences to ob- 
serve." It is with an honest conviction that we sing, 

" In each event of life how clear 
Thy ruling hand I see ! " 

The history of the Jews abounds particularly with 
instances of God's interposing hand. It is vain, then, 
for men or nations to think that they can go counter 
to the will of the Most High. Our purposes will be 
powerless if not in harmony with God's designs; our 
strength will be weakness if not energized by His 
quickening Spirit. " A man's heart deviseth his way: 
but the Lord directeth his steps." 

2. We cannot but notice, again, how miitute and par- 
ticular are God's providences ! There are men who 



136 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



seem to think that God does not concern Himself with 
the little affairs of this world. They will allow to Him 
creation and providence, but they think of Him as 
standing aloof from the things that He has made. 
Having created worlds and established laws, He looks 
on, and does not trouble Himself with little operations 
and methods. It seems belittling that the Author of 
the Universe should take cognizance of trifles and de- 
tails. But the fact remains that God does concern 
Himself with the smallest things as well as the great- 
est. He sets a world whirling on its axis and round 
its orbit, and then comes down to the humblest in- 
sect in that world, and ministers to it life and food and 
happiness. 

The case of Saul furnishes many details. All the cir- 
cumstances of the errand — the speaking in the ear of 
Samuel; the naming of the time; the announcement 
of the man ; and other incidents — prove how care- 
ful God was in arranging and evolving all the parts of 
His plan. Aside from observation, we have the words 
of the Great Teacher : " Are not two sparrows sold for 
a farthing, and one of them shall not fall on the 
ground without your Father. But the very hairs of 
your head are all numbered." It is not as a distant 
Deity that we would think of God. We would not 
resolve the Divine government into the operation of 
natural laws. We would see the hand of God in 
everything, — writing out the history of worlds and of 
insects, prescribing laws to the universe and to indi- 
viduals. We would feel that there is by our side an 
ever-present Deity, marking out for us each step that 
we take, and supplying to us each breath that we 



SAUL MADE KING. 



137 



draw. We would hear the voice of God in the rip- 
pling stream as well as in the dashing cataract or the 
roaring thunder. We would see His beauties painted 
in the tiny flower as well as in the glories of the sun- 
set. We would catch glimpses of His brightness from 
the glare of the insect's wing as well as from the gleam 
of the lightning. 

Any other view is dishonoring to God. How shorn 
of His divine attributes does it make God appear to 
suppose that He can not or will not concern Himself 
with the little things as well as the great ! Where then 
is His omniscience? Where His omnipresence? If 
He sees and knows all things, He must see and know 
the little things. And if He is present everywhere, 
He must be present in trifling occurrences as well as 
in those that are momentous. And how can He be a 
just God, if He does not notice little sins ; or how 
can He be a benevolent God, if He does not observe 
the little griefs and wants of His creatures? 

This view of a special providence draws our hearts 
lovingly to God. If we think of God as far from us, 
acting only through great and universal laws, sel- 
dom, if ever, coming near, speaking to, or touching 
us, we shall feel but little interest in or affection for 
Him. But if we believe that He is as much concerned 
about us as though there were no other beings in ex- 
istence ; that He is watching over us with a father's love 
and tenderness, now leading us by the hand in ways of 
pleasantness, speaking words of cheer, wiping tears 
from our eyes, folding us to His bosom, and blessing us 
in many ways, — we are ready to call Him Father, and 
cannot but love Him with a filial, grateful, cordial love. 



138 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



3. We are impressed, again, with the mysteries of 
providence. Life is full of surprises ; the unexpected 
is ever happening. Nothing could have been farther 
from the mind of Saul than that he was to become a 
king. There was nothing, apparently, in his circum- 
stances to warrant such an expectation. Hear him 
objecting, " Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest 
of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of 
all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore 
then speakest thou so to me?" Besides, a divine 
decree seemed to stand in his way. The title of 
royalty belonged to the tribe of Judah, and it was in 
that tribe that Shiloh was to appear. " The sceptre 
shall not depart from Judah, nor a law-giver from 
between his feet, until Shiloh come." What folly then 
for one of another tribe to think of securing that 
sceptre ; and how many ambitious youths of the tribe 
of Judah might reasonably have sought the sove- 
reignty! But God's hand was upon Saul, and king 
he was to be, though it were necessary that in the sub- 
sequent reign the sceptre should pass to the son of 
Jesse, of the tribe of Judah. 

Then, further, by what strange means did God reveal 
His purpose ! He did not send a commission to no- 
tify the new king of his appointment. He did not 
submit the matter to the people till after Saul was 
anointed. He did not acquaint Saul with His pur- 
pose beforehand, and have him preparing for the high 
position. He did not single out the family and distin- 
guish them as having in their keeping the future 
king of Israel. His ways were all unlike man's ways. 
And so it ever is ; we sing truly : — 



SAUL MADE KIXG. 



139 



" God moves in a mysterious way, 
His wonders to perform." 

No doubt God often sees that the best preparation a 
man can have for some particular office is to be made 
by keeping him uninformed with respect to it. God 
trains him in the school of poverty and of hard toil, 
and develops such a character as could not be devel- 
oped in any other way; and when He has made the 
man what He wishes him to be, sets him in his ap- 
pointed place. Thus He raises up better men and 
accomplishes more glorious purposes. Sometimes 
men are disposed to plan for the Almighty, to 
reason as to His movements, and to say what He 
will do. But He disappoints their predictions, thwarts 
their expectations, and proves Himself an indepen- 
dent, wonder-working Being. His language is: "My 
thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways 
My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are 
higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than 
your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." 

4. Once more, we are impressed with the greatness 
of little things ! What apparently could have been 
more trivial than the straying of those asses? Yet 
this was the first link in a chain of providences that 
raised Saul from a herdsman to a king ! The straying, 
possibly, was due to the carelessness of a servant in 
leaving down some bar, or not sufficiently protecting 
the inclosure. Yet see what that carelessness led to ! 
Thus it is the world over. Things that we call little are 
sometimes great in the mind of God. History abounds 
with instances of great results springing from slight 
causes. It was the greater love that Jacob bore to 



140 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



Joseph above his other sons that paved the way to all 
that followed of Jewish history. This parental weakness 
led Joseph's brethren to envy him ; this led them to sell 
him into bondage ; this carried him into Egypt ; this 
brought him to the notice of Pharaoh ; this resulted in 
his elevation to a high office ; this enabled him to pro- 
vide for his father's family during the famine ; this 
brought them into Egypt. Here they -remained, and 
in two hundred and fifteen years their descendants 
became a great nation. Then occurred the exodus 
under Moses, the march through the wilderness, the 
crossing of the Jordan, and their establishment in the 
promised land. It is common to speak of Rome as 
saved by the cackling of geese. We are told also 
that the life of Mohammed was saved by the weaving 
of a spider's web. Fleeing from Mecca, he took 
refuge in a cave. For three days he was secreted. 
The men who sought his life came to the cave, but 
seeing the web across the mouth of it, did not enter. 
Thus Mohammed was spared, to found a false religion, 
which now numbers more than two hundred million 
adherents. History informs us that when Columbus 
was nearing the western continent, a flock of birds 
passed above the masthead in a southwesterly direc- 
tion. This was taken as an omen; the vessel was 
turned in the same direction, and hence the course 
of Spanish discovery was diverted from the northern 
half of this continent. The adoption of the thistle as 
the national emblem of Scotland is thus explained. 
" One time the Danes invaded Scotland, and they pre- 
pared to make a night attack on a sleeping garrison. 
So they crept along barefooted, as still as possible, 



SAUL MADE KING. 



141 



until they were almost on the spot. Just at that mo- 
ment a barefooted soldier stepped on a great thistle, 
and the hurt made him utter a sharp, shrill cry of pain. 
The sound awoke the sleepers, and each man sprang 
to his arms. They fought with great bravery, and the 
invaders were driven back with much loss." Thus a 
thistle saved a nation. 

Now, when we look at little things in such a light, how 
great do they appear ! — great, because we see the use 
that God makes of them in the accomplishment of His 
purposes. Doubtless there are crises in our own lives, 
of which we take no notice; but when all things are re- 
vealed, we shall see that our weal or woe often hinged 
on some slight thing. Then it will appear that little 
things have had much to do with the world's history. 
Trifling occurrences, which men have overlooked, will 
then appear to have been the great bars and levers in 
the machinery of God's operations. Little incidents, 
which men have thought insignificant, will then strike 
all eyes as the great pillars in the frame-work of God's 
omnipotent rule. As one writes : — 

u There is nothing in the earth so small that it may not produce 
great things, 

And no swerving from a right line that may not lead eternally 
astray. 

A landmark tree was once a seed; and the dust in the balance 

maketh a difference. 
Tbe dangerous bar in the harbor's mouth is only grains of sand ; 
And the shoal that hath wrecked a navy is the work of a colony 

of worms. 

A spark is a molecule of matter, yet may it kindle the world. 
Vast is the mighty ocean, but drops have made it vast. 
Despise not thou a small thing, either for evil or for good ; 



1^2 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



For a look may work thy ruin, or a word create thy wealth. 
The walking this way or that, the casual stopping or hastening, 
Hath saved life and destroyed it, hath cast down and built up 
fortunes. 

Commit thy trifles unto God, for to Him is nothing trivial ; 
And it is but the littleness of man that seeth no greatness in a 
trifle." 

Let us rejoice that a great, wise, good, and power- 
ful Being rules the world. We are encompassed by 
the presence and guided by the hand of God. Blessed 
thought, — " He leadeth me ! " And since we live in 
a world where trifles are of so much importance, let 
us be scrupulous and faithful in the little things, that 
the issues shall be satisfactory, and the prophet's re- 
ward, with the approving " Well done," shall become 
ours at the last day. 



SHAKING HANDS. 



There are people who would do great acts, but because they 
wait for great opportunities, life passes, and the acts of love are 
not done at all. Opportunities for doing greatly seldom occur; 
life is made up of infinitesimals. If you compute the sum of 
happiness in any given day, you will find that it was composed of 
small attentions. 

Frederick W. Robertson. 



XL 



SHAKING HANDS. 



A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one 



HE story is told that an eminent minister was 



JL travelling at one time at a distance from home, 
and coming to a humble dwelling, sought lodgings for 
the night. The family, supposing that he was some 
poor wayfarer, kindly received him and showed him 
to his room. During the night they were awaked by 
noises coming from his room ; listening, they heard 
bits of prayers, quotations from Scripture, and indis- 
tinct mutterings. They thought the poor man was 
demented or half-witted, and knew not what he was 
saying, and were quite distressed on account of him. 
In the morning they thought that they would question 
him, and thus ascertain something more concerning 
him. He gave no satisfactory answers, though he 
seemed to be of a very religious turn. As a final test 
of his mental soundness they asked him how many 
commandments there were. His reply was, " Eleven." 
Now they were quite sure that the poor man was be- 
side himself. "And what," said they, " is the eleventh 
commandment?" He replied: "A new command- 
ment I give unto you, That ye love one another." 
Then they discovered that he was a distinguished 



another. — John xiii. 34. 




10 



146 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



clergyman, and that they had been entertaining an 

angel unawares. 

It is this so-called eleventh commandment to which 
I would invite your attention now. To view it in a 
concrete form, let me make prominent and urge par- 
ticularly the Christian duty of shaking hands. Some 
time ago an article appeared, entitled, " How a stranger 
was taken in." The visitor was in New York, and 
being near a church at the time of the Wednesday- 
evening meeting, thought he would go in. He says : 
"I looked in at the door for the sexton; not a sign 
of one was to be seen. But in an instant a man with 
a pleasant face and a cheery smile was at my side, 
grasped my hand, said he was glad to see me, and 
walked me to a nice seat not too far up nor too far 
back, and where there was a hymn-book!' After de- 
scribing the meeting, he says : " We rose for the bene- 
diction. I bowed my head expectantly ; but the pastor 
said: 'Now, brethren, before I pronounce the bene- 
diction, I want to charge you all to obey the eleventh 
commandment, which is for every man to shake hands 
with the man who sits next to him.' " The stranger 
thought he would slip away; but just as he neared 
the door, a hand fell on his shoulder, and the question 
was asked : " Are not you an eleventh-commandment 
man?" He had to reply "Yes;" and then he was 
introduced to some of the young men and to the pas- 
tor. One earnest man held him by the hand and 
said : " Come next Wednesday, or any time, and we 
will try to make you like us." The stranger went 
away from that meeting delighted, and feeling that he 
should like to go again. 



SHAKING HANDS. 



*47 



There is perhaps no duty so practical and impor- 
tant as that of shaking hands. It is a Christian obli- 
gation that we cannot unduly magnify. The Church 
will flourish where this duty is observed ; the Church 
will pine where this duty is neglected. Nor is it to be 
observed for politic reasons, but because a warm, lov- 
ing heart lies back of it; and it is the warm, loving 
heart that we should have. It is true that hand-shak- 
ing is expressive of character. The omission of it 
bespeaks self-consciousness, with exclusiveness, and 
indifference to others. Then we have every variety of 
form. One puts his hand out timidly, like a school- 
boy who expects to receive a blow ; another stretches 
his hand up to a high level and brings it down with 
a hearty welcome to the hand offered it. One gives 
you just the tips of the fingers daintily, and presses 
yours only with the fingers and thumb ; another opens 
his whole palm, and your hand goes aching half a day, 
perhaps, for the squeeze he gave you. One raises 
your hand up and down with a vertical shake ; another 
moves it horizontally back and forth. Doubtless you 
have illustrations of these forms in your own minds. 
Now I do not think the form of hand-shaking is en- 
tirely accidental. Character is depicted here; the 
heart goes out through the hand. 

In every age there have been forms of salutation. 
We think of the lowly obeisance of the Orientals, the 
courteous customs with which they approach each 
other, the respect they show in the presence of stran- 
gers and superiors, the high compliments they pay 
to their religious teachers, and the great honor with 
which they address a king. Even now the Hindoos 



148 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



might be an example to Christian people. The Chi- 
nese, we are told, have a whole series of salutes, from 
merely bending the knee, to complete prostration. 
The Japanese salutes by taking the slipper off his foot. 
The black kings of the African coast press the middle 
finger three times as a sign of salutation. The inhabi- 
tants of the Philippine Islands take your hand to do 
you honor, and then rub their faces with it. We 
may not adopt the Oriental salaam, come near to one 
another by frequent approaches and prostrations, or 
adopt any of these other customs ; but these practices 
show that courtesy is a natural principle of the human 
heart. The patriarch Abraham was a fine example of 
the old-time gentleman. And how polite was Paul, 
who was careful to close his Epistles with salutations 
to the brethren, and charged the Thessalonian Chris- 
tians and others to greet one another with a holy 
kiss ! Even Judas, in betraying his Lord, deceitfully 
used a courteous form ; he greeted Him with a kiss. 

In different ages and countries customs may vary, 
but the principle that calls for politeness lies at the 
bottom of all courtesies, is inborn, and must last as 
long as men and society exist. The etymology of the 
words " courteous," " courtesy," etc., is noteworthy. 
These are derivatives of the word " court." Court- 
manners are the most elegant and polite. I say our 
nature prompts us to show cordiality and respect to 
others, and we demand as much in return. Nor does 
the Christian religion chill the affections or put re- 
straint upon polite manners, but by its great impulse 
of love demands the warmest interest in others. 

Yet it is to be confessed that Christian Churches 



SHAKING HANDS. 



149 



have in too many instances failed to express what 
they are supposed to feel. The Church must become 
more of a magnet than it has yet been. Christ lifted 
up is to draw all men unto Him, and it is through the 
Church that this drawing is to be. Love is the mag- 
netic current that is to flow out through each individ- 
ual believer's lips, heart, hands, that shall electrify 
and draw the world to Christ. It is useless to claim 
that the Church is all right, and that the fault is with 
the world. The mission of the Church is to be that 
which the mission of its Head was, — to comfort all 
that mourn. Multitudes are sighing for the sympathy 
and rest which the Church ought to furnish ; and yet 
the Church looks to them like an aggregation of stran- 
gers and a company among whom no sympathy is to 
be found. Referring to the circumstances under which 
men are sometimes driven to suicide, a writer uses this 
severe language : " I believe that the Churches and 
the Christian community are somehow responsible 
for these things. I say the Churches and the Chris- 
tian community, because they are wrapped in a coat 
of selfishness and coldness so thick that a sensitive, 
shrinking soul can never creep inside of it. The 
young man, a stranger, comes to the city. He goes 
to church. Nobody notices him. He goes again. 
Nobody seems to remember having seen him before. 
But in the open saloon, the gilded billiard-hall, he is a 
welcome guest. The man of hitherto successful busi- 
ness career fails. His creditors were his so-called 
friends for many years. They are members of the 
Church, but he sees their love of money is stronger 
than their regard for him." This is severe language, 



150 BELIEVING AND DOING. 

and we do not plead guilty to the charge ; but we may 
learn something from it. The Church ought not to 
make such an accusation possible. There can be no 
doubt that a good shaking of the hand may restrain a 
person from desperate purposes, wake into life a dying 
hope, like the rousing of a snow-enveloped traveller, 
and that a kind word, if it does not save life, may yet 
lift untold agonies from a sorrowing heart, and nerve 
a man for new conflicts and greater exertions. I re- 
member meeting a person who said to me, " I count 
every day passed as clear gain. I rejoice when the 
night comes that I have one day less to live. I am in 
great misery, and when the end comes I shall be glad." 
The same day I met another person, and this one said, 
" My heart is dead ; I have no hope ; I am utterly 
discouraged. All is lost. If you know what it is to 
be utterly cast down, perfectly hopeless, you know 
how I feel." 

Now, is this the way to be going through the world, 
with so much of misery around us, aching and sor- 
rowing hearts everywhere, and the household of faith 
not the place of sympathy and love? Should not the 
Church be the hospital for suffering humanity, to 
which every wounded spirit should turn, and where it 
should seek the healing that it needs? 

It must be confessed that it is almost farcical to 
sing, — 

" Blest be the tie that binds 
Our hearts in Christian love," 

so far as the truth is concerned. Instead of " shar- 
ing " each other's " griefs " and bearing " mutual bur- 
dens," there are too many professing Christians that 



SHAKING HANDS. 



do not know who their fellow-disciples are ; they can- 
not even speak one another's names ! It is enough to 
make men weep to think that from the same commu- 
nion-table there are going up to the home of the 
blest those who shall meet as strangers there ! Ima- 
gine two of these strangers meeting, and ascertaining 
for the first time in heaven that they listened to the 
same minister and worshipped in the same sanctuary 
on earth ! Alas if hand-shaking and love must be 
postponed for heaven ! 

Theoretically the Church is right The Scriptures 
are full of love, inculcate brotherly love, tell us that 
" love is the fulfilling of the law," and that " by love " 
we shall " serve one another." The covenant too is 
right. We make very solemn pledges ; we tell those 
who come with us that we will watch over them in the 
Lord, treat them with Christian affection, pray for 
them, and otherwise seek their good : but how about 
the practice? 

It is easy to sigh, and say, " Oh, dear ! I am so 
tired. I have tried to be friendly, but I meet with 
poor encouragement; people don't come half-way; 
my attention is not reciprocated ; " or, " I am not 
adapted to such work ; I have no gifts in that direc- 
tion ; " or, " I am too busy ; I have no time to show at- 
tention to strangers." And so, for various reasons, this 
great and important duty of hand-shaking is neglected. 
We may account for this neglect and find excuses 
for it; but it is an evil to be deplored. I sincerely 
believe that the magnetism of a Church comes from 
the pews more than from the pulpit. When the mem- 
bers of a Church are like that New York man who said, 



152 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



" Come, and we will try to make you like us," people 
cannot stay away ; they will come. Besides, there is a 
Scripture injunction: "The Spirit and the bride say, 
Come. And let him that heareth say, Come." Every 
light needs a reflector, and the more reflectors you 
put about it, the more will the light shine. 

I am not pleading for the mere use of the hands, 
but for the love and interest that move .the hands. A 
warm manner is better than a cold one, but a real 
hearty love and interest is best of all. To attain to 
what is implied in genuine hand-shaking demands real 
piety, a sense of obligation and of duty, an appreci- 
ation of circumstances, a disesteeming of self, a sincere 
desire to do others good. Selfishness ties the hands, 
and walls one in from knowing or caring for others. 
Selfishness leads one to say, "I cannot do this work; 
my cares are too many, my business is too pressing; " 
and so it is that barrier of " I " and " My " that stands 
in the way of much Church activity : we settle down 
to enjoy ourselves rather than to make others happy 
" Where there is a will there is a way; " but it is so 
much easier to let others do the work ! It takes time 
and thought and effort to hunt people up, call on 
them and recognize them, and labor for their good. 
If we can only pray for the Spirit to do the work, or 
for the pastor to be eminently successful, how much 
easier it is ! If we take a good seat in the Church 
and pay for it, and never forget to pray, or pray now 
and then very earnestly for the Church, is not that 
enough? But it is not possible for any of us to be 
relieved from personal obligations. We may be de- 
ceived in our desires for the prosperity of our Church, 



SHAKING HAXDS. 



153 



and think that these originate in pure motives, when 
in our motives there is a large element of self. If we 
want our Church to prosper, to furnish us satisfaction 
in its popularity, to flatter our pride, or to make the 
income easy and relieve us of a pecuniary burden, the 
motive is not good. When the members of a Church 
are wholly disinterested, and desire simply the salva- 
tion of souls as an end ; when they pray for this, and 
then act as their prayers demand, doing what they can 
to draw in, interest, and save souls, — the Holy Spirit 
will descend, and their prayers will be answered. The 
spirit of prayer is the great desideratum ; and this 
will manifest itself in numberless activities, and among 
them the cordial use of the hand. 

Oh for the galvanic power of a loving heart ! Oh 
for the quickening that shall make the eleventh 
commandment a precept that is practically observed 
among men ! Let us, as we move abroad in the 
world, say by our look, in our eye, in our face, by 
our lips and by our hand, " Welcome ! " Let us greet 
the stranger; let us have a smile particularly for the 
shy and timid. And when you meet in the house of 
God, if you find your seat preoccupied by strangers, 
do not look displeased. A truly unselfish people will 
fill the least desirable seats first, leaving the best for 
strangers. You do so at home ; your guest-chamber 
is as pleasant as you can make it. Visitors do not 
like to be marched the length of an aisle, or seated 
by the door. The Xew York man understood it ; he 
seated the stranger " in a nice seat not too far up nor 
too far back, and where there was a hymn-book." 
Can you not have enough of this self-sacrificing spirit 



154 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



to let strangers sit with you, or to take as yours the 
less desirable seats at the highest price? 

Certain it is men must know one another in order 
to love one another. You cannot love an abstraction. 
There are no alienations, there cannot be alienations, 
among those who have not held intimate relations ; 
none fall out but those who have loved ; strangers 
cannot break friendship, they have never been friends. 
The coldness and distance of strangers may be as 
harmful, however, as the alienation of friends. The 
command is, that we shall " love the Lord our God 
with all our heart, and our neighbor as ourselves." 
Let the spirit of inquiry rest down on you and go 
from heart to heart, and each ask, Who is my neigh- 
bor? Show an interest in others; give them a loving 
hand ; speak a pleasant word. The young people 
especially should guard against being clannish, and 
should extend a cordial welcome to every young per- 
son of good character who comes among them. A 
little thoughtfulness is necessary. Sometimes persons 
coming newly into a congregation are at fault them- 
selves, — they feel that they are strangers, and are dis- 
posed to hide away ; but a loving, cordial manner will 
win them, and make them soon feel at home. Some- 
times, too, among the retiring the greatest worth is 
found. 

Cordiality costs little, and it often brings in large 
dividends. I believe earnestly in the power of hand- 
shaking; the theme is immensely important. I be- 
lieve that life-long resentments and bitter animosities 
may be, or might have been, overcome by a cordial 
grasp of the hand. Try it, if there is any one to- 



SHAKING HANDS. 1 55 

wards whom you are feeling hard. I urge this prac- 
tical observance of the eleventh commandment, not 
as a matter of policy, for prudential reasons, but as 
required by the gospel, as inculcated by Christ, as cove- 
nanted by ourselves, and as demanded by the interests 
and the laws of Christ's house. It is a duty the ob- 
servance of which will give pleasure to yourself and 
others, and contribute greatly — more than you think 
— to the prosperity of the Church and the honor of 
God. 



BELIEF WITHOUT SEEN EVIDENCE. 



Those who do not understand the life of faith fancy it to be 
all mysticism and effeminacy. But while it is mystical to the 
mere looker-on, to its possessor it is almost homely in its prac- 
tical details, touching every point of life, from worship to service, 
from service to worship, claiming the whole being for Christ, and 
spending andjbeing spent for those whom He came to redeem. 

Mrs. Elizabeth P. Prentiss. 



XII. 



BELIEF WITHOUT SEEN EVIDENCE. 



Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou 
hast believed : blessed are they that have not seen, and yet 
have believed. — John xx. 29. 



E hear much of the doubting Thomas. He has 



impressed us more by his doubts than by any- 



thing else. It is common to say of one, " He is a 
doubting Thomas." Very little is said of Thomas in 
the New Testament. His name is only mentioned, 
simply enrolled, in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and 
Luke. But for the gospel of John we should know 
almost nothing of him. But as in natural history 
you may sometimes from a single bone infer the entire 
structure, so from what John says you may form a 
correct conception of the character of Thomas. John 
says that when Jesus proposed to go into Judaea to 
raise up Lazarus, Thomas's loving language was, 
" Let us also go, that we may die with Him." That 
speaks well for Thomas. Now we find him acting the 
part of a doubter. On the evening of the resurrection 
the disciples were assembled, and Jesus appeared in 
the midst of them. For some reason Thomas was 
absent. It does not appear that he was at fault ; he 
may have had some good excuse, but he was a loser, — 
his absence threw him into unbelief. He said he 




160 BELIEVING AND DOING. 

must know that Christ was risen; he must have 
ocular and tangible demonstration of the fact, or he 
could not believe. A week after, Jesus came again, 
Thomas being present, and gave him the proof; 
now Thomas exclaims, " My Lord and my God ! " 
He is convinced; but it is the evidence of touch and 
sight. "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou 
hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they 
that have not seen, and yet have believed." 

There are two classes of persons : one believe upon 
evidence; the other accept upon trust. One class 
want argument, demonstration, proof ; the other be- 
lieve from moral intuitions or inward convictions, 
without the evidence of touch and sight. On the one 
side are the men of reason ; on the other, the men of 
faith. Thomas represents the doubting school ; Jesus 
pronounces in favor of the school of faith. As 
civilization advances and different influences prevail, 
one or the other of these classes preponderates. At 
the one extreme lies rationalism, and at the other, 
superstition ; and minds sway to one or the other of 
these extremes. In a credulous age men will believe 
in anything, — divination, omens, spectres, pretended 
miracles, imaginary cures, and whatever empirics are 
disposed to palm upon them. In a rationalistic age 
very little is believed. God is ignored, religion repu- 
diated, and all things resolved into matter, force, and 
natural law. Before the Reformation the world was 
intensely superstitious; since the Reformation it has 
become intensely rationalistic. Extremes beget ex- 
tremes ; and hence we see this constant oscillation of 
the human mind. If we try to detach a person from 



BELIEF WITHOUT SEEX EVIDENCE. i6l 

a false religion, he goes over into no religion. If we 
try to convert a heathen from his many gods, he comes 
to believe that there is no God. If we seek to draw 
a man away from formalism and superstition, he drops 
away from all forms and has no religion. Some years 
ago the tide of unbelief rose high, welling up in Ger- 
many and France, spreading over England, and reach- 
ing even the United States. There is abroad at the 
present day much latent scepticism, and perhaps as 
much that is open and bold. Scientists have made 
war upon Revelation ; the supernatural is ignored, 
mysteries are explained in the light of reason, even 
prayer is called in question, Christianity has been pro- 
nounced a failure, and it has seemed as if the Lord 
must come to save His Church, or it would be swept 
away. Even many in the Church have so far breathed 
the deadly atmosphere and yielded to the stupefying 
influences as to come to hold their faith in a feeble 
way. 

It would seem, however, that a reaction has set in. 
By natural law we look for such a change. Some men 
of science are turning against those of their number 
who ride hobbies and hold unphilosophical opinions, 
and are excluding them from their academies, from 
their society, and even from their friendship. They 
are also defining their own position, admitting their 
ignorance, and confessing that they deal only with 
nature, and that there is a realm into which they do 
not essay to go. That realm is the supernatural; and 
men who claim to deal with facts, and yet ignore this 
greatest of all facts, — that beyond nature there is a 
Power that transcends nature, — stultify themselves. 

ii 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



This they are coming to see. But as attention is 
turned more to the infinite and incomprehensible, it 
is quite likely that conjecture and imagination will 
next take possession of the human mind. As it is 
easy to see a face in the moon, to make pictures in 
the blazing fire, and to paint vast landscapes in the 
cloudy skies, so gazing into the unknowable, men may 
see much that is visionary and false. We need to be 
guarded, therefore, against going too far, or seeing too 
much, and believing everything. At present believers 
have to resist a sceptical influence ; but it is quite 
likely that by and by they will have to resist an oppo- 
site superstitious influence. From doubting, men will 
come to take more on trust than they ought. And 
then we shall see a return to extravagance in religion, 
— formalism, pietism, the surrender of conscience, and 
an undue exaltation of articles of faith. As between 
the two, I would prefer credulity to rationalism ; I 
would rather believe too much than too little. And I 
would rather contend against credulity than rational- 
ism ; for in the rationalist you must plant a faith, 
while in the over-credulous you have only to lop off 
an exuberant growth. Possibly we may not have to 
choose between these extremes, but as intelligence in- 
creases and society improves, the universal heart will 
rest in equilibrio between doubting scepticism on the 
one side, and w r eak credulity on the other. Doubtless 
the great need here and everywhere is a baptism of 
the Holy Spirit. It is not so much by argument that 
sceptics are to be convinced as by a Divine influence 
upon their hearts. A statesman, whose father and 
grandfather were celebrated before him, used this 



BELIEF WITHOUT SEEN EVIDENCE. 1 63 



language in a Commencement address: " Nothing is 
so much needed as a thorough revival of religion 
throughout the nation. Any one looking at the pres- 
ent state of things will be impressed with its truth. 
The worldly-mindedness in the Christian public, the 
loose ideas of morals and honesty, the rings and com- 
binations to corrupt men, and especially the young, 
the accursed thirst for gold and haste to be rich, the 
boldness and prevalency of godlessness and infidelity 
in their thousand forms, the untrustworthiness in per- 
sons in places of power and trust, the formal attend- 
ance of many on the Church, and the general indif- 
erence to the gospel, with a thousand other things of 
like temper and tendency, force upon the thoughtful 
observer the need of a powerful revival of true reli- 
gion throughout the land." The truth is, it is men's 
hearts that are at fault more than their heads ; and 
argumentation, reasoning, addresses to the understand- 
ing, without Divine aid, are vain. Let the Spirit 
breathe on human prejudices, proud theories, and 
false beliefs, and they melt like the reluctant snow un- 
der a burning sun. Nations are to be born in a day; 
but it will not be because reason has attained such 
ascendency, and the evidences of religion have gained 
such sudden power, but because the Holy Spirit has 
shed upon the people a disposition to believe. It was 
not the force of Peter's argument that convinced so 
many at Pentecost, but the Divine influence affecting 
the heart. It is possible to attach too much weight 
to reason, and to make too many appeals to the 
understanding. When a man's desires are right, it is 
easy to convince him. When the Spirit works in us 



164 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



to will and to do, outside argument is of but little 
account. We have seen men who had fortified them- 
selves with infidel objections, and whose hearts were 
like bristling ramparts, brought down without a blow. 
Some little incident, a child's voice or a touching 
providence, had dissolved all their prejudices, answered 
all their arguments, banished all their doubts, and led 
them to cry, in the ardor of a new affection, " My Lord 
and my God ! " 

Belief seems to be the normal condition of the soul. 
As man comes from the hand of God he seems to be a 
believing creature. One of the most endearing char- 
acteristics of little children is their perfect trust. They 
have no more fear of want than the birds that sing in 
the branches. They believe what you tell them ; they 
dispute and question nothing. It is only as they 
come in contact with the world, and get experience 
and find themselves deceived, that they learn to dis- 
trust, suspect, and disbelieve. It would seem, too, 
that the Creator would not make man a disbelieving 
being. Though endowing him with reason and with 
a nature to demand proofs, still He would naturally 
make his bent toward credence, toward his Creator, 
and toward Christian faith. He would keep some 
place for Himself in the heart of man, just as painters 
and engravers write their names with pinxit or deli- 
neator in some part of their work. It is by a hard- 
ening and slow process that man gets his face away 
from God. A man has to reason himself out of God's 
presence, and into the dark, and at a distance from 
God ; it is not where he belongs. It would be strange if 
God made children with a nature to reject Him. Man 



BELIEF WITHOUT SEEN EVIDENCE. 1 65 

is made with moral intuitions and a mind prepared to 
accept the truth of the Divine existence without proof. 
The idea of God is axiomatic, and disbelief is some- 
thing abnormal. The mind demands no proof that 
the whole is greater than a part, or that things equal 
to the same thing are equal to one another; so but 
for sin it would as readily admit all that is connected 
with a Divine Revelation. The moral instinct would 
lead the soul to God as spontaneously as natural in- 
stinct draws a child to its mother's bosom. Among 
the signs of the times, showing that a reaction from 
rationalism and unbelief has set in, may be mentioned 
the recognition by an eminent scientist, Professor Max 
Miiller, of Oxford, of a third faculty in man distinct 
from faith and reason ; namely, the faculty of believ- 
ing without proof. What is that but moral intuition 
and Christian faith? Some persons have supposed 
Christian faith to be mere credence, — a belief in 
things incongruous and unreasonable, a belief in ab- 
surdities. No wonder, so supposing, that they rejected 
it. It is rather belief in things not in conflict with 
reason, but beyond reason, — things which we feel to 
be true, which accord with our moral instincts, but 
which we may not be able to establish by argument 
or formal proof. We may know the truth of things 
without being able to demonstrate it. Some good old 
saint, in whose heart Christ dwells, shall have better 
evidence of God's being and revelation than the most 
accomplished and learned sceptic. Faith is not cre- 
dence in fictions, but a laying hold of the soul, with- 
out logic or argument, upon things that are true. 
" Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evi- 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



dence of things not seen." Faith is substance, not 
fancy; the evidence of things that exist, only they 
are not seen. A distinction is to be made between 
belief without evidence, and belief without seen evi- 
dence. When faith is thus understood, as demanding, 
not that men shall accept impossibilities and absurdi- 
ties, but simply things lying beyond the realm of rea- 
son, we may hope that it will come to be thought 
better of, not as in conflict with reason or as belit- 
tling reason, but as the best and most ennobling of 
human faculties. Says one : " It is a commonly rec- 
ognized principle of philosophy that it is the contest, 
not the victory, which brings the most satisfaction. 
An active mind tires of that which is known. Male- 
branche and Lessing say that if they held the truth 
in their hand as a captive, they would open the hand 
and let it fly, that they might pursue after it and cap- 
ture it again. This destroys moral earnestness, and 
empties faith of its realities. Many minds of spec- 
ulative disposition are tired of that which is known. 
Much of what is called progress is simply a chase 
through the woods for the sake of the excitement 
there is in it." 

We find the Saviour putting honor upon faith. 
Thomas believed because he had seen; but, " Blessed 
are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." 
A recent writer says : " Few verses of Tennyson's are 
quoted so often and so confidently as — 

" ' There lives more faith in honest doubt, 
Believe me, than in half the creeds.' 

Yet they have the smallest basis of truth. Thomas was 
honest. But did his gracious and gentle Master com- 



BELIEF WITHOUT SEEN EVIDENCE. 1 67 



pliment him upon his honest doubts and hold him up 
as superior to other disciples? Just the reverse ! " The 
evidence of sight leaves no room for faith ; what logic 
and argument establish, we must receive. But where, 
then, shall simple trust come in ? Society is held to- 
gether by faith, not by sight. The child believes in 
his father, the wife in her husband, friend in friend, the 
tradesman in those with whom he does business, not 
because of compacts and forms, but from a general 
belief in human nature. Let this confidence cease, 
and society would be dissolved. The father would be 
pained to know that his child trusted him only as he 
kept making promises and convincing him that he 
would not cast him off. Love between husband and 
wife, or friend and friend, is the love of faith ; and when 
suspicions arise, the love is gone. Without confidence 
in purchasers, employees, transit companies, etc., all 
traffic would come to an end. Blessed, in this low 
point of view, is faith. Take one of those large 
business establishments such as you see in any city, 
and it is a symbol and an embodiment through and 
through of faith, — faith in clerks, faith in watchmen, 
faith in insurance companies, faith in buyers, faith in 
strong walls and timbers and iron safes. A man could 
not sleep without faith. 

But better than this is religious faith ; it gives a 
man the same repose in his soul with respect to 
eternal concerns that secular faith gives with respect 
to home, society, and business. God wishes us to 
trust Him as children trust their parents and as we 
trust one another. Not to trust is displeasing to God 
and painful to ourselves. The most unhappy state in 



i68 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



which a man can be, is that of doubt and unbelief. 
In this state the mind has no sure anchorage, and is 
driven about aimlessly on a dark sea. Such men we 
have seen, subjecting everything to the test of reason, 
and made miserable thereby, — puzzling themselves 
all the while with the deep things of God, and sink- 
ing down with exhaustion, or made sad and gloomy, 
resolving everything into fate, and submitting to life 
as a sheer necessity, literally without hope and with- 
out God in the world. Even among professed believ- 
ers a sceptical mind is a most unfortunate possession. 
It makes them sit as critics on God's methods and 
ways ; and as they cannot understand these, they be- 
come reproachful and unhappy. They pry into the 
Old Testament, and they think that God was hard on 
the Jews ; they study the New Testament, and they 
find doctrines there, especially in the Epistles, which 
they cannot understand. They argue about things- in 
the light of reason, and they are disposed to say what 
God ought to do. Having no great sense of sin, they 
put a slight value on redemption ; and if God crosses 
their path by some sorrow or disappointment, they are 
filled with resentment. Oh, how different is this from 
that sweet trust which says, " I know Whom I have 
believed ; " which sees a Father's hand in everything, 
and finds nothing in Old Testament or New that can- 
not patiently be left for the fuller explanations of the 
Last Day ! I would not be tormented with one of 
those disbelieving minds for the world. I see no more 
of mystery in Revelation than I see in Nature. The 
arcana of this physical universe contain things quite 
as inexplicable as any of the deep things of provi- 



BELIEF WITHOUT SEEN EVIDENCE. 1 69 



dence and grace. There is more that is incompre- 
hensible out of the Bible, in substance and form, life 
and motion, wind and tide, tree, rock, and flower, than 
there is in it; and so I rest my faith on the simple 
" Thus saith the Lord," waiting the revelations of the 
Last Day. I think the simplicity of an humble be- 
liever is to be coveted rather than the learning of the 
greatest philosopher, if learning shall lead to the re- 
jection of the Bible and the denial of a personal God. 
The faith of the honest Scotchman is better, who, 
when he was rallied with the words, " Now, Jamie, you 
don't believe that the whale swallowed Jonah?" re- 
plied : " Yes, I do ! I believe it because the Bible says 
so ; and if the Bible said it was a herring that swal- 
lowed Jonah, I would believe it the same." It is the 
believer's confidence that gives the soul peace. There 
is satisfaction in seeing; but "Blessed are they that 
have not seen, and yet have believed." Dr. Arnold of 
Rugby in one of his letters wrote : " It must be always 
understood that there are difficulties in the way of all 
religion, — such, for instance, as the existence of evil, 
— which can never be fairly solved by human powers; 
all that can be done intellectually is to point out the 
equal or greater difficulties of atheism or scepticism, — 
and this is enough to justify a good man's understand- 
ing in being a believer. If I were talking with an 
atheist, I should lay a great deal of stress on faith as 
a necessary condition of our nature. Faith does no 
violence to our understanding. The Devil's religion 
is quite as much beset with intellectual difficulties as 
God's religion is. There are thousands of Christians 
who see the difficulties which the sceptic sees, quite as 



170 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



clearly as he does, and who long as eagerly as he can 
do for that time when they shall know even as they 
are known. But then they see clearly the difficulties 
of unbelief, and know that even intellectually they are 
far greater. And in the meanwhile they are contented 
to live by faith, and find that in so doing their course 
is practically one of perfect light." 

It is a significant fact that Dr. Arnold, just before 
he died, was heard to repeat the words of our text. 
" His wife, returning to his room, observed him lying 
still, but with his hands clasped, his lips moving, and 
his eyes raised upward as if engaged in prayer; when 
all at once he repeated firmly and earnestly, ' And 
Jesus said unto him, Thomas/ " — his own name was 
Thomas, — " ' because thou hast seen Me, thou hast 
believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and 
yet have believed.' " Alas that so few know the 
blessedness of the " perfect light ! " 

Reason is all the while insisting upon proof, and 
faith has but little room. The demand in Jesus' time 
was, " Master, show us a sign from heaven." Jesus 
replied, " There shall no sign be given but the sign of 
the prophet Jonah." The rich man in torment en- 
treated that messengers might be sent to testify to his 
brethren, lest they should come into that place of tor- 
ment ; but Abraham replied, " They have Moses and 
the prophets ; let them hear them. ... If they hear 
not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be per- 
suaded, though one rose from the dead." The rabble 
at the cross cried, "He saved others; Himself He 
cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him 
now come down from the cross, and we will believe 



BELIEF WITHOUT SEEN EVIDENCE. ijl 

Him." As if they had not had evidence enough al- 
ready ! If Jesus had left the cross, it would not have 
convinced them any more. Three days after, He left 
the grave, and yet they were not convinced. Thus 
many persons think that if they had more argument, 
demonstration, proof, they would believe ; but the dif- 
ficulty is with their heart, not with their head. It is 
not evidence, evidence, evidence, that men need, but 
faith, faith, faith. " With the heart man believeth 
unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is 
made unto salvation." Would I have you believe 
that which you do not understand? Most certainly. 
There is very little that you do understand ; you as- 
sume, and act. Do so in religion. "We walk by 
faith, not sight." I fear that ministers labor too much 
to make things plain ; we linger too long in the field 
of apologetics; we pity the sceptic, and we try to 
relieve his doubt, and compel belief. Oh that we 
were more Christ-like, simply to say, " Come, come, 
come ! " Let the yearning heart do its own convin- 
cing, and the felt need of a Saviour draw the soul 
to Him. 

Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that Jesus does stoop 
to a weak faith. He did not deny Thomas the evi- 
dence that he sought. He put honor upon faith, and 
then gave him the evidence of touch and sight. So if 
He sees in us the least germ of faith, He encourages 
it, while He does not refuse reason, but satisfies it 
with the most convincing proofs. It was well that 
Thomas doubted, for now we have more convincing 
proofs of Christ's resurrection. It was a saying of 
one of the early popes — Leo the Great — that the 



172 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



disciples doubted, and Thomas in particular, to the 
end that we might not need to doubt. Striking also 
is the contrast between Christ's words to Mary Mag- 
dalene and those to Thomas. She believed in His 
resurrection, and so to her He said, " Touch Me not." 
Thomas doubted His resurrection, and so to him He 
said, " Touch Me." Thus He accommodates Himself 
to our states, restraining or encouraging, as the need 
may be. 

We are to bear in mind that Thomas was not a de- 
nier, but a doubter; he did not disbelieve, he was sim- 
ply not convinced. That may be the state of some 
of you ; but if you do not yield to the evidences ad- 
duced, if you shut your eyes to proofs furnished, your 
doubts will harden into unbelief Oh, my friends, 
" To-day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your 
heart, as in the provocation." This sin of unbelief is 
a great sin. Come near yourself; behold this Jesus; 
see those gaping wounds; put your finger into the 
prints ; thrust your hand into the side ; and be not 
faithless, but believing. Take this Christ as your 
Christ, acknowledge Him, embrace Him, and say with 
the delighted Thomas, " My Lord and my God ! " 



GIVING SYSTEMATICALLY. 



It has been frequently wished by Christians that there were 
some rule laid down in the Bible fixing the proportion of their 
property which they ought to contribute to religious uses. This 
is as if a child should go to his father and say, " Father, how 
many times in the day must I come to you with some testimonial 
of my love ? How often will it be necessary to show my affec- 
tion for you ? " The father would of course reply, " Just as 
often as your feelings prompt you, my child, and no oftener." Just 
so Christ says to His people, " Look at Me, and see what I have 
done and suffered for you ; and then give Me just what you think 
I deserve. I do not wish anything forced." 

Edward Payson. 



XIII. 



GIVING SYSTEMATICALLY. 

Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him 
in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gather- 
ings when I come. — Cor. xvi. 2. 

/^IVING is a practical duty, and one that needs fre- 
quent enforcement. Giving began with Adam. 
Sacrifices were demanded from our first parents. Cain 
and Abel made their offerings. We early read of 
tithes. Abram gave tithes to Melchizedek. Jacob 
vowed at Bethel, " Of all that Thou shalt give me 
I will surely give the tenth unto Thee." To the time 
of Christ the giving of a tenth was a standing require- 
ment. It is reckoned that a conscientious Jew must 
have given annually one third of his income to reli- 
gious uses. The first-fruits of the field and the first- 
lings of the flock were required. Money also had to 
be paid at the birth of the first male child. Then the 
corners of the field and whatever fell from the reaper's 
hand had to be left for the poor. Every seven years 
all debts were remitted, and for that year the entire 
fields, not the corners only, but all the land, belonged 
to the poor. The support of the Levites was a tax 
too, who received a tenth of all the annual products. 
Then there were sin-offerings and trespass-offerings — 



176 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



a tax of half a shekel for the sanctuary — and other 
gifts. 

Now, did Christ's coming annul this much giving? 
It broke some chains ; it delivered from the cere- 
monial law. Did it release from obligations to give? 
The Sermon on the Mount speaks of doing " alms." 
The awards of the judgment are based on feeding the 
hungry, clothing the naked, and so on; and these acts 
are spoken of as done to Christ. The apostolic 
charge to Paul and Barnabas was that they should 
" remember the poor." From the Epistles we learn 
that it was very common to take up collections for 
persons in need. Macedonia and Achaia made a 
contribution for poor saints at Jerusalem. To the 
Romans Paul wrote : " He that giveth, let him do it 
with simplicity." In the margin it reads " liberally." 
To the Corinthians he wrote, " As I have given order 
to the Churches of Galatia, even so do ye; " so it would 
seem there was no Church that escaped. And why 
should any Church wish to escape : How could it be 
a Church of Christ, and try to escape? Giving is a law 
of Christ's house, and is a form of worship, — it may 
be the most spiritual form of worship. It is easy to 
pray and sing; it is not so easy to give. 

Now look at the text. It falls into natural divisions, 
and is easily remembered. 

1. "Upon the first day of the week." That means 
system, — not at casual and odd times, but statedly 
and constantly. " The first day of the week," — that 
means every Sunday. The envelope system then is 
Scriptural ; the every Sabbath collection is sanctioned. 
Why should it not be the custom everywhere? You 



GIVING S YS TEMA TIC ALL Y. 



177 



say, " I cannot be troubled with so constant a care ; " 
you prefer to give once for all, — once a month, or 
once a year. Why do you not worship in that way, — 
pray by the month, sing for three months, or worship 
for a year? Why do you not eat in that way? Why 
this never- varying round of three meals a day? It is 
said of Benjamin Franklin that when a lad he was 
worried with his father's long blessings at the table ; 
and so when a barrel of salted meat arrived, he sug- 
gested to his father that he should say grace over the 
whole barrel at once, and so be done with this daily 
giving of thanks. That is much the way that some 
persons would like to dispose of this matter of benevo- 
lence. Giving is a form of worship ; and why should 
it not be as regular and constant as singing and pray- 
ing? At the same time the business of some men is 
so complicated that a weekly gift based on a percent- 
age of the income can hardly be made. Still system, 
in distinction from caprice, irregularity, and fitful 
giving, is required. 

System, moreover, is of great value in everything. 
Work moves forward better that is governed by rule. 
Factories and mills, railroads and steamships, families 
and schools cannot get on without rules. Why should 
Church benevolence be left to chance? Some consci- 
entious persons who have a steady income keep a 
book in which they charge themselves every week or 
month with sums due the Lord, and from the whole 
amount give as cases arise. There is benefit in this 
to the person himself. One gentleman who tried it 
says: "This system has saved me from commercial 
dangers, by leading me to simplify business and avoid 

12 



i;8 



BELIEVING AND DOING, 



extensive credits. It has made me a better merchant : 
for the monthly pecuniary observations which I have 
been wont to take, though often quite laborious, have 
brought me to a better knowledge of the state of my 
affairs, and led me to be more cautious and prudent 
than I otherwise should have been." Not only did 
system make him a better merchant, it also made him 
a better man. He adds, " It has been of vast advan- 
tage to me, enabling me to feel that my life is directly 
employed for God. It has tended to increase my 
faith, and led me to look forward with greater joy to- 
wards my heavenly home. It has afforded me great 
happiness in enabling me to portion out the Lord's 
money, and has enlisted my mind more in the pro- 
gress of Christ's cause." It is told of a man who was 
about to be immersed, that he called the minister to 
stop until he could get his pocket-book, saying, " I 
wish to have my pocket-book baptized with me." 
There is a law for the pocket-book as well as the mind 
and the heart. 

2. We leave the first part of the text to take up 
the second : " Let every one of you lay by him in 
store." If "every one," then how are the poor going 
to escape? Ought not the widow to have been ex- 
cused? Yet Christ commended her, and said her two 
mites were more than the rich man's all. Giving is a 
luxury; then why should the poor be deprived of it? 
Men that have been chosen rich in faith and heirs of 
the kingdom of God want to give something, and God 
will give them something to give. If the quality of 
mercy is twice blessed, blessing him that gives and 
him that takes, God will see that the poor have this 



GIVING SYSTEMATICALLY. 



179 



blessing, — the blessing of giving as well as of receiving. 
And if there are sanctifying influences connected with 
giving, God will see that the poor receive this good. 

Nor can the purchasing power of money indicate 
the moral value of a gift. The poor man's penny 
blessed of God may do more for missions than the 
rich man's gold without God's blessing. A penny 
and a prayer given make more than a hundred pen- 
nies without prayer. Of course the common treasury 
receives all, but it is only a part that constitutes the 
real seed of the kingdom. Nor is any one so poor 
that he can give nothing. If he has nothing, he can 
promise or borrow, and make it up afterward. If he 
is a beggar, he can beg one penny more. We are told 
that " the Hindoo converts are very poor, the average 
earnings of each one not exceeding six cents per day. 
Yet many cheerfully and regularly give one tenth of 
their income to benevolent objects. The women in 
some places daily, before cooking, dip a handful out 
of the often scanty provisions of family rice and set it 
apart for the Lord." 

Further, " every one " means not only the poor, but 
also the children. Children should be taught to give. 
Says one, " Children's influence is too much over- 
looked in the mission-work. Parents, Sabbath-school 
teachers, and missionary agents do not take the pains 
they might to create in them a missionary spirit. As 
soon as they can speak and go alone, they should be 
bent into missionary workers. They can be taught to 
take as much interest in the condition of the freedmen, 
Chinese, and Indians, as in 'Mother Hubbard,' 'Jack 
and the Bean-stalk,' etc. Especially when they are 
called upon to give their pennies, should it be ex- 



1 8o 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



plained to them for what purposes their moneys are 
solicited." 

3. The third division of the text says: " As God 
hath prospered him." Some give the same amount, 
prosperity aside. From year to year it is the same 
dollar or dollars; their income may be vastly greater, 
but there is no increase in giving. The text says, "As 
God hath prospered " you. It is God who gives pros- 
perity, and you ought to give back proportionately 
to Him. Prosperity is the gauge of giving. The 
amounts may be different; but give what you can 
every time, — that will keep things even. " For if 
there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according 
to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath 
not." Men are quite willing, when their income dim- 
inishes, to cut down their gifts; but they are not so 
willing, when their income increases, to enlarge them. 
Now, God does not ask for fixed sums. He lays it on 
every man's conscience to give according to that he 
hath. There is a fitness, then, in a man's setting sums 
aside when prospered, that he may know how much he 
has, and how much he has to give. From the general 
law of giving according to the ability there is no loop- 
hole of escape. Yet what vast numbers give nothing, 
and what vast numbers give less than they ought ! 
The heathen give more to sustain their idol-worship 
than Christians give to enable idol-worshippers to know 
the true God. The tithes are withheld, and hence the 
windows of heaven are not opened, and the blessing 
comes not. " The love of money is the root of all 
evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred 
from the faith, and pierced themselves through with 
many sorrows." Do you think if the Lord Jesus in 



GIVIXG SYSTEMATICALLY. 



181 



person, instead of the Church officers, took up the col- 
lections, and you put your purses into His hands, He 
would hand them back and never take any more than 
what you now give Him? Yet you claim to love Him, 
and you say that all that you have is His ! 

4. One part of the text remains: "That there be 
no gatherings when I come." Paul did not believe in 
spasmodic efforts. He wanted the Churches to give 
from principle. He did not wish to make thrilling 
appeals, and then pass the plates round before the 
heat was over. He would have a regular, intelligent 
setting apart of a certain sum beforehand. He did not 
want the gatherings when he should come. He did 
not want his presence to affect the amount contributed. 
He did not believe in melting people down or lashing 
them up, and then taking advantage of their present 
weakness. He was very cautious to guard against in- 
voluntary and impulsive giving. To the Corinthians 
he writes : " Every man according as he purposeth in 
his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of neces- 
sity : for God loveth a cheerful giver." " Therefore I 
thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they 
would go before unto you, and make up beforehand 
your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the 
same might be ready as a matter of bounty, and not as 
of covetousness." How much better this is than acci- 
dental and frenzied giving ! People should make some 
discrimination between objects, and give with reason 
and fitness. There are those whose giving depends 
on the orator, and not on the object. With them, 
Foreign or Home Missions stand on the same footing 
as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Ani- 
mals. If an agent can draw tears, he can draw money. 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



Now, Paul says : " Let it not be so. Give, but do it 
with forethought and preparation, systematically and 
from principle.- Let me not see the collectors going 
about, or hear the rattle of coin. Let that be done 
beforehand, — not when I come." 

Thus we have articulated the text. It has four 
quarters. First, system : " Upon the first day of the 
week." Second, personal duty : " Let every one of 
you lay by him in store." Third, measure of benevo- 
lence : " As God hath prospered him." Fourth, intel- 
ligent^ cheerful, and appropriate giving : " That there 
be no gatherings when I come." 

Now, my friends, no man ever yet gave to the Lord 
and lost by it. I can furnish you with some good 
proof-texts on that point. " Cast thy bread upon the 
waters : for thou shalt find it after many days." 
" Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the 
first-fruits of all thine increase. So shall thy barns be 
filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with 
new wine." "The liberal soul shall be made fat: and 
he that watereth shall be watered also himself." Do 
you ask for a sure place of investment? Here it is: 
"He that hath pity on the poor lendeth unto the 
Lord; and that which he hath given will He pay him 
again." 

Now, my friends, by the memory of what Christ has 
done for you, by your obligations of stewardship, 
by the needs of a dying world, by the shortness of 
time, by the nearness of heaven, give as you have 
opportunity, and with no stintedness that shall make 
you ashamed up there ! 



WHAT OF THE NIGHT? 



Take heart ! — The Waster builds again, — 

A charmed life old Goodness hath ; 
The tares may perish, but the grain 
Is not for death. 

God works in all things ; all obey 

His first propulsion from the night : 
Wake thou and watch ! — the world is gray 
With morning light ! 

John G. Whittier. 



XIV. 



WHAT OF THE NIGHT? 



The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, 
what of the night? Watchman, what of the flight? The 
watchman said, The morning comet h, and also the night: if 
ye will inquire, inquire ye : return, come. — Isaiah xxi. 1 1-12. 

*\T7'ATCHMEN are spoken of very early in the 



V V history of the race. As danger would arise 
from wild animals or from human foes, watching must 
have originated almost as soon as the world was 
peopled. A systematic division of the night into 
watches seems to have been the custom in Egypt. 
We read that " in the morning watch the Lord looked 
unto the host of the Egyptians." Among the Israel- 
ites, watchmen were stationed at the gates of Jeru- 
salem, who by their voice, with or without the aid of 
a trumpet, gave signals and furnished information. 
At night the watchmen perambulated the city. We 
read in the Song of Solomon : " The watchmen that 
go about the city found me." The Jews divided the 
night into three watches, while the Romans, imitating 
the Greeks, divided it into four; hence in the New 
Testament we find mention made of the fourth watch. 
It was from the custom of appointing watchmen thus 
that this figure came to be applied to religious teach- 




BELIEVING AND DOING. 



ers ; we read, " I have set watchmen on thy walls, 
O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace." " Son 
of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house 
of Israel." It appears that there was an actual watch- 
tower in Jerusalem ; and it is as if standing upon this, 
and looking off into the distant East, that the watch- 
man in the text is represented as hearing the cry, 
"What of the night? " and answering' it. 

We have here a complete but obscure prophecy. 
It is all contained in the two verses cited, and is so 
brief and meagre that commentators have not agreed 
as to its meaning. "The burden of Dumah." The 
term " burden " probably means that the message is 
of a weighty, or serious character. By "Dumah" is 
meant Idumsea, in which Mount Seir was situated, out 
of which the cry, "Watchman, what of the night?" is 
represented as coming. It was a time now — 713 B. C. 
— of darkness to the people of God. Night is often 
employed as an emblem of darkness, and is so em- 
ployed here. The Jews were in a depressed condition ; 
the Edomites, or people of Idumsea, were desolat- 
ing their country, and soon the last two tribes would 
be carried into seventy years captivity in Babylon. 
Some think the inquiry, 44 Watchman, what of the 
night? " expressed a sincere desire on the part of the 
Edomites to know what was to be the fate of their own 
people. It is commonly thought, however, that this 
was the language of mockery; the Jews are taunted 
with their depressed condition, and for the sake of re- 
minding them of their misfortune and of deepening 
their sorrow are asked how it fares with them. The 
inquiry is repeated, either to indicate the interest felt, 



WHAT OF THE NIGHT? 



or to make the taunt more cutting. The reply of the 
prophet as Israel's watchman falls on the ears of the 
Edomites with the weight of doom. " The morning 
cometh, and also the night; " that is, as is commonly 
understood, morning cometh to the Jews, but night to 
the Edomites, — morning to us, night to you. After 
a time the captivity of the Jews would end, and with 
songs they would return to their own land; but on 
their enemies, the Edomites, a darker night would set- 
tle, and heavier calamities fall, than any that the Jews 
had known. And so it proved. Fearful prophecies 
with regard to Edom, or Idumaea, were uttered, such 
as these : " I will lay thy cities waste, and thou shalt 
be desolate, O Mount Seir," — the mount out of which 
the inquiry of the text is represented as coming. " I 
will make thee perpetual desolations, and thy cities 
shall not return." " The cormorant and the bittern 
shall possess it; ... thorns shall come up in her pal- 
aces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof." 
And these prophecies have been literally fulfilled. 

With this understanding of the text, it is to be ob- 
served that there is a sense in which the same inquiry 
and answer may be applied to other times. The 
Church of God has had her seasons of depression, of 
darkness, and she has never been without enemies who 
were ready to taunt her in the language of mockery 
and unbelief. In the dark periods of the Church the 
inquiry has ever been, "Where is thy God?" and in 
all the history of the past no form has been wanting, 
no species of tactics overlooked, in which the evi- 
dences of Christianity have not been assailed. It 
would make a long catalogue to enumerate the various 



188 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



enemies to the Church which have arisen during the 
centuries, and the form and method of their assaults. 
But however triumphant they may have been at times, 
however much it may have seemed that the founda- 
tions were to be destroyed, however sad and dark the 
experience through which the Church has passed, the 
day-star has at length arisen, and the morning broken 
of strength and victory. Nor has the warfare ceased. 
New enemies have arisen, and fresh assaults are made. 
As one writes : " The earth is not still and at rest 
Men of every class are searching after an unknown 
good. The demon of infidelity is stalking abroad, 
knocking at the palaces of the rich and the cottages 
of the poor, transforming himself into this shape and 
that, and becoming all things, except an angel of 
good, to all men. Numerous and mighty agencies 
both for good and evil are abroad and at work. Light 
and darkness strove on the face of the deep before this 
goodly universe rose out of chaos, and they have their 
strivings still. But if the antagonistic forces on the 
one side as well as the other be pressed into the un- 
fettered conflict, the lovers of God and the friends of 
man have nothing to fear, but much to hope. ' Chris- 
tianity, like Rome, has had both the Gaul and Han- 
nibal at her gates; but as the Eternal City calmly 
offered for sale, and sold at an undepreciated price, 
the very ground on which the Carthaginian had fixed 
his camp, with equal calmness may Christianity imi- 
tate her example, assured that, as in so many past 
instances of premature triumph on the part of her 
enemies, the ground they occupy will one day be her 
own.' " 



WHAT OF THE NIGHT? 1 89 

History furnishes numerous instances in which the 
Church has risen from a depressed condition to hurl 
back upon her enemies the weapons which they had 
used. There have been times of obscuration, but the 
Church has emerged from the darkness like the sun 
from an eclipse. The condition of the world in the 
sixteenth century was one of gloom. Superstition and 
formalism had settled down upon the Church, and the 
darkness was very great. Christianity before the Re- 
formation was like the Jews in Babylon; but if any 
one had asked, as when this language was first used, 
"What of the night? " the answer could have been re- 
turned with equal confidence : " The morning cometh." 
Wicliffe was "the morning-star of the Reformation;" 
Luther was the effulgent day. There never was a 
time in France when infidelity seemed so triumphant, 
or the Church brought so low, as during the Reign 
of Terror. It was a period in which apparently God 
was ruled out of the world. But it was a period that 
showed that nations, like men, cannot prosper without 
acknowledging the true God. So dense was the dark- 
ness that it could not last long. As one writes : " The 
people recoiled from the impious and horrid system ; 
and that same Convention which had publicly disowned 
the Most High, and proclaimed death to be an eternal 
sleep, was constrained to recognize by enactment the 
existence of God and the immortality of the soul, and 
by an impious festival professedly to restore the Eter- 
nal to the nation's faith and homage." Three hundred 
years ago it seemed that astronomy had arrayed itself 
against the Scriptures, because it taught that the sun, 
and not the earth, was the centre of the solar system. 



190 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



But soon the discovery of Galileo came to be an 
accepted fact, and the language of Scripture, which 
represents the earth as standing still, and the sun as 
rising and setting around it, was seen to be simply 
a popular, rather than a scientific, method of stating a 
truth. Not many years ago geology presented some 
facts that seemed not to harmonize with the Mosaic 
cosmogony. But geology is a modern and an imma- 
ture science, and when it has fully established its facts, 
it is impossible that it should present anything in con- 
flict with the writings of Moses. The books of Nature 
and Revelation were written by the same Hand, and 
perfectly agree. If any wish to believe that the world, 
by its fossils, strata, and debris, gives evidence of hav- 
ing stood through indefinite ages, they can do so by 
supposing a hiatus between the first and second verses 
of Moses' narrative, or they may regard the days as 
extended periods of time. 

Nor need we fear, however threatening modern dis- 
coveries may appear. Either they will be proved to 
be mistaken, false, or else they will strengthen and 
corroborate the Inspired Record. " All flesh is as 
grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. 
The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth 
away. But the word of the Lord endureth forever." 
Says Dr. Guthrie: "The only result of using the facts 
of science to undermine the foundations of religion 
will resemble that wrought by some angry torrent 
when, sweeping away soil and sand and rubbish, it 
lays bare, and thereby makes more plain, the solid 
rock on which the house stands, unmoved and unmov- 
able." Beaten on other fields, it seems as if Infidelity 



WHAT OF THE NIGHT? 



were stealing into the Church itself, and by professed 
friendship were attempting to destroy the principles 
which it dares not openly assault. Professing righteous- 
ness and exalting reason, it accepts the Scriptures, but 
makes of miracles myths, and of narratives fables. Or 
magnifying forms, it eviscerates the substance of the 
gospel, and turns the ordinances of religion into a vain 
show. Or while professing to admire the spirit of the 
New Testament, behind antinomian warrants it en- 
courages to the widest liberty, and permits to sin, that 
grace may abound. The law is brought down to 
man's lowest appetites, and the worst deeds are justi- 
fied under sanction of law. Again, on the part of 
some men there is a sympathetic regard for persons of 
a sceptical tendency, and with the wish to relieve their 
troubled minds there is a lowering of the New Testa- 
ment standard, — a twisting of the statements of the 
gospel and of the teachings of Revelation, a conces- 
sion to the doubts and speculations of these persons, 
and a fraternizing with them for the sake of their 
good-will. Some of the concessions made relate to 
questions of inspiration, the antiquity of man, the 
unity of the race, a second probation, endless punish- 
ment, etc. In a quarterly review a new work was 
noticed approvingly, not long ago, with this state- 
ment: "Touching the antiquity of man, the author 
remarks that the chronology of the Bible is not de- 
terminate." And so we find a professedly Christian 
writer adopting the theory of the existence of human 
races anterior to Adam, holding that man began to be 
hundreds of thousands of years before Adam, and that 
the race is in a state of constant progressive develop- 



BELIEVING AXD DOIXG. 



ment ! But while one religious journal condemned 
this book as " wrong at both ends, and having no 
claim to the receptive faculty of any intelligent be- 
liever in the only authentic record of the origin and 
destiny of the human family," another religious jour- 
nal made extracts from it, quoted its statements as 
w r orthy of credence, and sent these out into thousands 
of Christian homes. Then, further, some who have 
held high ecclesiastical positions, or who have been 
distinguished as religious teachers or scholars, have 
not simply made concessions, but gone quite over to 
the enemy's side. 

But whatever may be the disguises, the opposition, 
or the assaults of the enemies of Christianity, it is not 
possible that they should inflict deadly wounds. They 
may hinder and hurt, but the cause of God moves on- 
ward. We who are put in charge of the Church's in- 
terests must exercise watchfulness, courage, and fidel- 
ity. Doing this, we are sure of the Divine help and 
of the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom through- 
out all the earth. To the inquiry, whether put seri- 
ously or in derision, u What of the night? " we answer, 
" The morning cometh." The cause that has been 
tried through so many ages is not now to be destroyed. 
The truths that have been established by miracles 
and prophecy, and strengthened and confirmed by the 
developments of history, by modern discoveries, and 
by the grand climacteric march and movement of all 
events towards the perfect reign of Christ on earth, are 
not to be stultified or negatived by a few opposing scep- 
tics, or seriously endangered by any temporary dark- 
ness with which they may be obscured. Shadows are 



WHAT OF THE NIGHT? 



193 



but evidence that the sun shines ; eclipses may frighten, 
but they soon pass away. " Let there be light," is the 
Divine fiat, and in due time the morning will break, 
harbinger of the millennial day. Let not the timid 
have fears, then, for the cause of God ; let them not 
try to steady what God has established. Great 
changes may come upon nations, they may even be 
swept away; but an unerring voice declares that " No 
weapon that is formed against Zion shall prosper." 
"The gates of hell shall not prevail against" her. 

But while morning shall come to the Church of 
God, we are not to forget that darkness shall cover 
her enemies. As the Edomites finally suffered the 
severest judgments, and were swept away, so shall it 
be with all who mock the Church of God or array 
themselves against her. Yes, the morning cometh, 
and " also the night," — night to every one, small or 
great, who does not identify himself with the people 
and house of God. " The wicked shall perish, and 
the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs : 
they shall consume ; into smoke shall they consume 
away." It is a solemn question, To which of these 
classes do you personally belong? While morning is 
undoubtedly to come to the Church of God, will it 
come to you? Are your dark experiences to termi- 
nate in endless day? Shall your " sun go no more 
down forever" ? When you have passed the " gloomy 
vale," will it be light ever after? When the night of 
weeping is past, will joy come to you in the morning? 
On the island of Malta a beloved missionary, many 
years ago, was called by the providence of God to 
bury his wife. He laid her precious form in the ceme- 

13 



194 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



tery around which extend the massive fortifications 
of that island. On those walls sentinels are always 
stationed, and all night through, at regular intervals, 
the voice of the watchman may be heard, but a few 
paces from that grave, crying, "All is well ! " So the 
angel guards look approvingly down upon each sacred 
grave, watching through the sleeper's night, and wait- 
ing with solemn interest that joyful morning when with 
trumpet-notes they shall call the dead to life. Can the 
watch-cry over your grave be, "All is well"? If not, 
then you belong to that other class, with respect to 
whom all is not well. You are with Edom rather 
than Israel, — with the enemies, and not the friends of 
God. And this is the class to whom the watchman 
lifts the warning cry, "The morning cometh, and 
also the night ! the night ! " Oh, my friends ! be 
admonished ; and if you wish to know how it is with 
you, ask with a right spirit and determination, and a 
warning of woe shall be turned into a promise of joy. 
" If ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come." 



WHAT DOEST THOU HERE, ELIJAH? 



Where is the faith that never staggers ; the hand that never 
hangs down ; the knee that never trembles ? Children grow 
fretful as they grow sleepy. Paul longed to depart, to be with 
Christ; yet he was willing to abide in the flesh, because it was 
needful for others. While we are ready to go, we must be will- 
ing to stay, if God has anything for us to do or suffer. To be 
impatient for retreat, especially as soon as we meet with disap- 
pointment, is unmanly and sinful. 

William Jay. 



XV. 



WHAT DOEST THOU HERE, ELIJAH? 

What doest thou here, Elijah t — i Kings xix. 9. 
I 7E have here the gloomy picture of a discouraged 



V V man. It is the last man that we should think 
of as coming into this state. David might get dis- 
couraged, for he had many enemies and suffered 
much. And Paul the wanderer ! But Paul seemed 
ever buoyant. Here was Elijah, the most eminent of 
the Hebrew prophets, hiding away from a woman's 
rage, and wishing that he might die ! And he never 
died at all ; for he was translated, — it was a luxury 
that he might never know ! It is said that when men 
wish to die, it is then that they are least prepared to 
die. After all, it is natural to be discouraged. No 
man can be always on the mount; we have our ups 
and downs. Life is full of changes, and when trouble 
comes, or foes arise, or evil threatens, we are inclined 
to run and hide ourselves, like Elijah. It is such a 
strong man that we find in this plight that we are the 
more astonished. And yet we are comforted in think- 
ing that the strong may be discouraged as well as we. 
Up to this time the prophet had been bold, faithful, 
and zealous ; but now he is overcome. He was so 
great a proclaimer of truth that John the Baptist was 




198 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



likened to him, and called the Elias that was to come. 
It was a special honor, in addition to translation, that 
Elijah should have been permitted to visit the earth 
with Moses, and converse with the Saviour on the 
Mount. How could it have been that this man should 
have become discouraged ? And yet so it was. The 
wonderful exhibition of Divine power on Carmel had 
passed. The false prophets had been .slain, and the 
three and a half years of drought were over. While 
the clouds blackened with rain Ahab hastened to Jez- 
reel to tell Jezebel of what Elijah had done. " Then 
Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let 
the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy 
life as the life of one of them by to-morrow about this 
time." Finding that neither warnings nor judgments 
availed, that the nation and its rulers would not re- 
pent, and alarmed for himself, the prophet fled to 
Beersheba, thence into the wilderness, " and came and 
sat down under a juniper tree : and he requested for 
himself that he might die. . . . And as he lay and 
slept, an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise 
and eat." This was done the second time; and in the 
strength of the food furnished he went forty days and 
forty nights to Horeb, which is another name for Sinai. 
Entering a cave, he lodged there. " And, behold, the 
word of the Lord came to him, and He said unto him, 
What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have 
been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts : for the 
children of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, thrown 
down Thine altars, and slain Thy prophets with the 
sword ; and I, even I only, am left ; and they seek my 
life to take it away." Now God replies in that mem- 



WHAT DO EST THOU HERE, ELIJAH? 199 



orable scene of the wind, the earthquake, the fire, and 
the still small voice, repeating at the close the same 
question: "What doest thou here, Elijah?" and re- 
ceiving the same answer. 

Here was a man, who ordinarily was great and good 
and brave, showing all the weakness of a child. You 
will notice that Elijah was discouraged, first, in oppo- 
sition to experience. If any man should have been 
hopeful, he was the man. Of Elijah's childhood we 
know nothing. Like another Melchizedek, his par- 
entage is not given. For aught that appears to the 
contrary, the chariot that took him from the earth 
might have brought him to the earth. The first in- 
cident of his life that is recorded is his denuncia- 
tion of Ahab. Ahab was so wicked a king that it is 
written, he " did more to provoke the Lord God of 
Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were 
before him." Now Elijah appears, and utters this sol- 
emn asseveration : " As the Lord God of Israel liveth, 
before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain 
these years, but according to my word." The proph- 
ecy was fulfilled ; a drought prevailed over the land 
for three and a half years. But where was Elijah all 
this time? Did he suffer from the drought? See how 
God provided for him. He told him to go and hide 
himself by the brook Cherith, and there " ravens 
brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and 
bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the 
brook." Thus he was fed, perhaps for a whole year. 
Now the brook dries up ; but the prophet must be 
sustained. He is sent to Zarephath, to a poor widow 
whom he finds gathering sticks with which to prepare 



200 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



for herself and child what she supposes will be their 
last meal. Her language is : "I have not a cake, but 
an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a 
cruse : and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I 
may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we 
may eat it, and die." Elijah encouraged her, and was 
again provided for by miracle ; while the drought con- 
tinued, the meal in the barrel did not .waste, and the 
oil in the cruse did not fail. During this time the son 
of the widow dies. She seems to think it is the pro- 
phet's fault, and is a judgment; but the prophet takes 
the child to his room, stretches himself upon him, 
prays for him, and gives him back to his mother alive. 
Thus the prophet had an opportunity to test God's 
care of him in the famine, and to prove His readiness 
to answer prayer. After this occurred the scene on 
Carmel when the fire descended and licked up the sac- 
rifice, and when the false prophets were slain. It was 
for his putting these false prophets to death that Jeze- 
bel was so angry at Elijah. But why should Elijah 
fear? Had not God been with him? Did not God 
feed him by the brook by ravens, and again in the 
house of the widow in a miraculous manner? Had 
not God shown His presence and power in the matter 
of the sacrifice, and vindicated the honor of His own 
name? Could he have wanted any better evidence 
that God was with him? And is it not strange that 
this man" who is spoken of by inspiration as shutting 
and opening the windows of heaven by prayer, should 
have been thus cast down, — a man so eminent and 
able, destined to translation, and mourned for at last 
as the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof? Is 



WHAT DO EST THOU HERE, ELIJAH? 201 

it possible that Elijah could have shown this weak- 
ness? Alas for the strength of man! 

Again, secondly, Elijah was discouraged in oppo- 
sition to fact. Hear his bitter complaint; twice he 
repeats it: " I have been very jealous for the Lord 
God of hosts : for the children of Israel have forsaken 
Thy covenant, thrown down Thine altars, and slain 
Thy prophets with the sword ; and I, even I only, am 
left ; and they seek my life, to take it away." See how 
he emphasizes the " I " — "I only." Now, if it were 
so, it was not a true ground for discouragement. The 
Lord and Elijah were a moral, if not a numerical, ma- 
jority. At first the Lord did not correct him, but 
summoned him to come out of his hiding-place and 
stand upon the mount. Now He sent a wind that rent" 
the mountains and brake the rocks in pieces, then an 
earthquake, then a fire ; but the Lord was in none of 
these, — He was in the still small voice. Thus the 
prophet sees that it is not numbers, force, or show that 
constitute the best ground of hope. But he was mis- 
taken as to fact. Said God : " I have left Me seven 
thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed 
unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed 
him." It was a false impression that Elijah was 
alone; persecution had hidden these men, but they 
were there. Thus we find Elijah discouraged on in- 
sufficient grounds, and when the knowledge of former 
interpositions should have kept him up. Alas, Elijah, 
how weak was thy faith ! Experience and fact should 
have cheered thee, yet thou didst despair and faint ! 

But do we never repeat Elijah's weakness? Do we 
not sometimes yield to fear, and flee as if into the 



202 BELIEVING AND DOING. 

wilderness, and pray that we may die? To "you under 
the juniper-tree the angel comes, saying, " Arise and 
eat." To you hiding in the dismal cave the voice of 
God calls, saying, "What doest thou here?" My 
friends, I come to you with the voice of joy and hope. 
It is a dark world in which we live, and oftentimes our 
circumstances are very depressing; but do not think 
because danger threatens, or losses come, or friends 
desert, that it is time to die. Do not think because 
sin abounds, and vice is rampant, and piety declines, 
that ruin awaits all things. The Lord will preserve 
His cause, and He will preserve you. The song 
which I would have you sing is the song of the chil- 
dren, — 

" Oh, do not be discouraged, 
For Jesus is your friend ! 
He will give you grace to conquer, 
And keep you to the end." 

Or that other, — 

"Ye valiant soldiers of the cross, 
Ye happy praying band. 
Though in this world you suffer loss, 
You '11 reach fair Canaan's land. 
Let us never mind the scoffs nor the frowns of the world, 

For we 've all got the cross to bear ; 
It will only make the crown the brighter to shine 
When we have the crown to wear." 

I charge you be of good cheer ; I charge you cast 
aside fear and irresoluteness. Remember, God reigns. 
As one writes : " Oh, that we were not so impatient 
when our gracious God occasionally denies our re- 
quests ! We may rest assured that whenever we pray 



WHAT DOEST THOU HERE, ELIJAH? 



without success, that which we desire is not only not 
best for us, but is either injurious, or at least inferior 
to what He really intends for us. How many a Chris- 
tian pilgrim would never have seen anything of the 
spiritual manna, or of the spiritual streams from the 
rocks, had God listened to him when, with fear and 
trembling, he besought Him not to lead him into a 
desert ! Take courage, therefore, my brethren ! Be- 
lieve that the denial which the Lord occasionally puts 
upon our requests will eventually yield us as abundant 
cause for praise as the assent with which He at other 
times graciously crowns them. You may be ready to 
exclaim, ' O Lord ! make an end ; it is enough. ' But 
no, beloved brethren, you must first travel, like Elijah, 
through a desert unto Horeb, that you may there hear 
the ' still, small voice ' of peace." 

Moreover, we should be encouraged by God's pro- 
tection in the past. If we have been in straits, He has 
brought us out; and if we staggered under burdens, 
He has made us strong. We have passed through 
fire, and were not burned, — through waters, and were 
not drowned. We may have cried out, but the danger 
passed, and we still live. Now we can look back and 
say, " There and there I feared ; such and such things 
were grievous ; " but no night ever settled that was 
not followed by a corresponding day. After losses, 
bereavements, disappointments, trials, the light has 
dawned. It is probable it -will be so still. We are 
prone to say, "This is the worst thing that ever hap- 
pened to me ; " but very likely we have said this be- 
fore. We forget in present bitterness the taste of 
medicine taken long ago. Now, it is safe to reason 



204 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



from the past. If God has delivered us once, He will 
deliver us again. Let the knowledge of other sorrows, 
that lifted themselves like the mists of the morning, 
encourage you to believe that the vapors of the pres- 
ent will soon clear away. 

Further, it does no good to pine, and vex our soul. 
Elijah received no benefit from his discouragement. 
When real sorrows come, we may mourn ; but it is 
not well to be sad when there are no grounds for it, 
and especially when sadness unnerves us for present 
duties. Besides, sadness is contagious. Children will 
cry if they see their parents cry, and a sorrowful face 
will image itself in others. When we yield to fear we 
make our companions timid, and when we give way to 
gloom we make all around gloomy. Blessed is the 
man whose presence carries warmth and sunshine, 
whose words cheer, and whose face beams with quick- 
ening love ! 

We ought, moreover, to be careful as to the impres- 
sion we make concerning religion. If we say we have 
given all we have to God, and then when He takes, or 
suffers us to lose a little, we rebel and complain, that 
is inconsistent. If we say religion supports the soul 
in times of tribulation, and then show that we have no 
such support, it injures us and dishonors religion. If 
we say that religion is of priceless value, and then 
show that it is not worth an empty purse to us, will 
others want or care to seek it? God must be very 
angry with those who thus belie and injure His cause. 

Again, ought we not to consider that trials may be 
better for us than what we call blessings? Trials may 
be blessings in disguise. How foolish we are ! We 



WHAT DOEST THOU HERE, ELIJAH? 



205 



dote and cherish, we overload our vessel, and would 
founder at sea, did not the Master cast overboard a 
portion of the cargo ; and then we cry, not knowing 
that this is for the saving of our souls ! Sometimes 
some object that we idolize becomes positively dan- 
gerous to us, and our Father snatches this away, as a 
mother would snatch a bottle of poison from the hand 
of her little child who had loosened the cork and was 
just about to swallow the fatal draught. But what a 
disappointment it is, and how angry we are at the 
Hand that thus interferes with our pleasures ! Ah ! 
God knows what is best, and all the trials and losses 
are meant for our good. We say " l A11 these things 
are against me ; " but it is a great mistake. When we 
get to heaven we may see that prosperity was adver- 
sity, and that the trials were the best portion of our 
earthly lot. We are not to lose sight of the fact that 
our present life is disciplinary. In the arena of loss 
and suffering, faith and hope are to be tried. This is 
the field for the exercise of a life of trust. If there 
were no suffering there could be no self-sacrifice or 
opportunities to illustrate the martyr spirit. We are 
in our rudimentary state, and study and toil and even 
correction are incidental thereto. The young soldier 
submits to discipline that he may be the better fitted 
for the fight ; and we are trained here for higher ser- 
vices, successful contests, and at last the conqueror's 
crown. 

Again, it should encourage us that we have so many 
promises of God. The child ought not to be timid 
who has his father's hand and hears his voice in the 
dark. The Bible is to too many a dark-lantern; it 



206 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



was made to shed light. We ought to go to it in trou- 
ble ; it would reveal the way, it would dispel our gloom. 
Hear how it speaks : " Trust in the Lord, and do good ; 
so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt 
be fed." Jesus says : " Behold the fowls of the air: for 
they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into 
barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are 
ye not much better than they?" There is no danger 
but that we shall live out our appointed time. Let us 
trust and do good, and we may be sure that Ave shall 
be fed. Especially if we can say, " The Lord is my 
Shepherd," may we add, " I shall not want." 

Finally, let us remember that our life is short. It is 
folly for a man to wish to die. We shall die soon 
enough. Our stay here is but for a " little while." 
We know that earth is dark and drear, but the morn- 
ing already dawneth. We ought not to despair when 
we are getting near home. We are coming where 
the towers of the Golden City can be seen, and we 
ought not now to faint by the way. Most of you are 
more than half through life, and some who are young 
in years may be almost home. By the shortness of the 
way, then, I charge you to cheer up ; soon, if Christ's, 
you will be where pain and weariness, disappointments 
and losses, never come. 

" Yet a season, and you know 
Happy entrance will be given, 
All our sorrows left below, 
And earth exchanged for heaven." 

I will add only that the secret of all prosperity is in 
nearness to Christ. When we cleave to Him, nothing 



WHAT DOEST THOU HERE, ELIJAH? 20J 



can harm us or cast us down. It is religion that we 
need more than every earthly good. Let us aim, then, 
to be more holy, that temporal things may affect us 
less. Let us pray for larger measures of grace, that we 
may always walk in the light. And let us rejoice in 
the Voice that calls us from our gloom, saying, " What 
doest thou here? " In all times of discouragement let 
us do as the young student did who was on his 
way to college, travelling on foot, with all he had tied 
up in a pocket-handkerchief. He had to go thirty or 
forty miles. It was in the spring of the year, the day 
was stormy, and the mud was deep ; but when his 
courage flagged, he roused himself to new exertion and 
greater endurance by saying to himself : " Sing Wind- 
ham and go ahead." That was a man who became 
afterwards a distinguished missionary at the Sandwich 
Islands. Let us have a like courage ; let us be as full 
of hope, of purpose, and of song; and when our spirits 
flag in the march of life, hasten our hesitating foot- 
steps by saying, " Sing Windham and go ahead." 

" The fearful soul that tires and faints, 
And walks the ways of God no more, 
Is but esteemed almost a saint, 
And makes his own destruction sure." 



LITTLE WHILE. 



'4 



The present moment is all we have to do with in any sense. 
The past is irrecoverable, the future is uncertain ; nor is it fair 
to burden one moment with the weight of the next. Sufficient 
unto the moment is the trouble thereof. If we had to walk a 
hundred miles, we still should have to set but one step at a time ; 
and this process continued, would infallibly bring us to our 
journey's end. 

Jane Taylor. 



XVI. 



A LITTLE WHILE. 



They said therefore, What is this that He saith, A little while ? 
We cannot tell what He saith. — John xvi. 18. 

JESUS was about to leave the world. He was 
speaking His last words, but His simple-hearted 
hearers did not know what He meant. The mor- 
row, however, revealed His meaning, for they beheld 
Him hanging upon the cross. For three days they 
saw Him not; having risen from the tomb, He was 
seen again for forty days, and then He went to His 
Father. It was literally " a little while," as Jesus had 
said. But these words may have a wider application. 
It is but " a little while " that any of us have to stay 
here on earth. We are seen, and we are not seen, be- 
cause we go to the Father. We read, " For yet a little 
while, and He that shall come will come, and will not 
tarry." " The time is at hand." " Behold, I come 
quickly." 

Let us take the words of the text and dwell on them 
for a little. 

I. We have but "a little while''' to be. The longest 
life is included in these few words. To childhood life 
appears long; but when it is passed, it seems like the 
flight of an arrow, or like a vapor that vanisheth 



212 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



away. " Few," said the patriarch Jacob, when he was 
one hundred and thirty years old, " have the days 
of the years of my life been." Even the material 
objects that we see around us are to last much longer 
than we. The house that we now build for ourselves 
shall echo to the footfall and prattle of children's 
children. The tree that we planted by our door shall 
cast its shadow or drop its fruit when the grass has 
grown green many times over our graves. This 
house of God where we meet from Sabbath to Sab- 
bath will stand long after our feet have ceased to 
frequent it, and our voices have grown silent from its 
songs of praise. There are structures reared by the 
hand of man which have stood through many genera- 
tions. There are works of art still extant that carry 
us back to the earliest times. How wonderful it 
seems to look upon a slab from Nineveh, or to hold 
in our hand a fragment of some ancient ruin, and 
think of the myriads of human beings that have 
come and gone since these objects were chiselled and 
formed ! How strange to think that the sun which 
lights us to-day is the same sun that looked down 
upon Noah's builders when they made the ark; that 
the stars which shine in the heavens are the same 
that fought against Sisera and his host three thousand 
years ago ! And yet, in the sight of God, the sun 
and the stars exist but a little while. To impress us 
with the brevity of life the Scriptures use striking 
figures, such as the morning vapor, the swift post, the 
flying shuttle. Moreover, Nature is ever lifting her 
voice and repeating the same lesson. In the flowers 
that so shortly wither, the sear leaves of autumn, the 



A LITTLE WHILE. 



213 



speedy succession of night and of winter, she says to 
us, " Such is thy life." Reason and observation also 
teach us that our stay here is for " a little while." 
The companions of our youth, how many of them are 
gone ; and with what rapidity are the friends on every 
side us passing from our view ! It seems as if on all 
the things beneath and around us the words were 
written : " A little while." Everything is a loan which 
the Great Giver is willing we should enjoy for " a little 
while." Have we children? "These," He says, " I 
commit to you for a little while." Have we riches, 
comforts, friends? It is the same with them. Have 
we honors, offices, influence, power? It is the same 
with them. 

Nor do we fill a large place in the world's history. 
In a little while we shall be forgotten. " One hun- 
dred years from now," wrote Henry Kirke White, " the 
world will not know that I have ever lived." He was 
mistaken, but it will be true of us. We may fill a 
large place now in the hearts of our friends, we may 
flatter ourselves that we are accomplishing some good, 
and would be greatly missed if taken away; but it is 
a small space that we are filling, and when we leave 
the world the social elements will close up, and things 
will move on as before. " Thrust your finger," says 
some one, " into a vessel of water and withdraw it, and 
you shall see in the returning particles how large a 
place you fill, and of how much consequence you are 
in the world." Some seem to think that they are 
prime factors in the progress of events, and that the 
world can hardly be reformed or saved without them. 
They are hardly willing to trust things in the hands of 



214 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



God after they are gone. But how soon do they pass 
away, and better men, perhaps, are raised up to take 
their office ! It may be impossible to name a succes- 
sor to this or that man now, but in the plan of Provi- 
dence the world has never wanted for the fit person 
when a crisis came. Says Goethe : " We cannot too 
soon convince ourselves how easily we may be dis- 
pensed with in the world. What important person- 
ages we imagine ourselves to be ! We think that we 
alone are the life of the circle in which we move ; in 
our absence we fancy that life, existence, and breath 
will come to a general pause ; and alas ! the gap 
which we leave is scarcely perceptible, so quickly is 
it filled again, — nay, it is often but the place, if not 
for something better, at least for something more 
agreeable." Longfellow writes : — 

" When we are gone, 
The generation that comes after us 
Will have far other thoughts than ours. Our ruins 
Will serve to build their palaces or tombs. 
They will possess the world that we think ours, 
And fashion it far otherwise." 

2. If we have but a little while to be, we have also 
but a little while to do. It would seem as if the charge 
to every one in coming into this world were: "What 
thou doest, do quickly." If life is short, its duties and 
labors cannot last long; if it is only a day that we 
spend on earth, all that we do must be done in that 
day. Reflect, then, — a little while to do ! There is 
much to be done, and the briefer our stay, the more 
the need of earnest action. Life is in some sense a 
crisis, and whatever is done must be done now. If 



A LITTLE WHILE. 



215 



a man is drowning, or a patient sinking, or a vessel 
foundering, the remedy to be applied must be applied 
now, or it will be in vain. The fact that a result will 
be reached in " a little while" in any case, is a reason 
why the intervening moments should be earnestly 
filled. 

Observe, then, we have but " a little while " in 
which to honor God. It is our mission here to glorify 
Him, and in our intercourse with others they should 
see that we have adopted, as the sentiment of our 
lives, those words, — the first that Jesus is recorded to 
have uttered, — " Wist ye not that I must be about My 
Father's business? " 

Then, further, we have duties to ourselves. 

" A charge to keep I have, 
A God to glorify, 
A never-dying soul to save, 
And fit it for the sky." 

Even after regeneration there is need of much watch- 
ing and prayer. The more we examine our hearts, 
and the larger our experience, the more do we find to 
do to make our calling and election sure. 

Yet again, there is much to do with respect to 
others. " None of us liveth to himself." We are 
made to be useful ; we sustain relations which imply 
duties; we are to do good to those around us, and 
must save their souls, if possible, too. We are to live 
to make the world better; we are to aim to acquaint 
the ignorant with God's grace in Christ; we must aim 
to lead up a shining throng to the gates of Paradise 
with us. With reference to the world lying in sin, 
with reference to home duties, Christian benevolence, 



2l6 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



and personal effort, there is an immense amount of 
work to do. 

It is clear, then, that our hands are full ; with refer- 
ence to God, ourselves, and others we have much to 
do. But much as we have to do, laborious and impor- 
tant as is our task, it appears that it is to be done in 
"a little while." The day hastens; the nightfall 
quickly comes ; soon we shall have np more time to 
work, or work to do. 

3. If we have but " a little while" to be and to do, 
so we have but " a little while " to suffer. Life is a 
state of discipline ; it is " through much tribulation 
that we enter into the kingdom of God." Sharp and 
numerous are the ills that befall us. Some of us suf- 
fer from physical infirmities, and are ever sighing and 
groaning with pain. Some are loaded with cares and 
anxieties, and find that mental distresses are hardest 
to bear. Some do poorly in business, and are threat- 
ened with want, or having laid, up treasures, lose 
them. Some are tried by unfaithful friends or un- 
grateful children; some, when their hearts are most 
warmly set on companions and loved ones, are called 
to lay these in the grave. Aptly has the world been 
likened to a vast hospital, in which every one is cry- 
ing out with pain. " The whole creation groaneth." 
Even those who seem most prosperous will admit that 
they often weep in secret. Every heart knows its own 
bitterness. 

Nor are God's people exceptions ; they would seem 
rather to be most disciplined in the school of sorrow. 
Thus their faith is strengthened, and they are fitted for 
the bliss above. It is meant that this should in some 



A LITTLE WHILE. 



217 



sense be a suffering state, for it is antecedent, when 
suffering is sanctified, to a life of joy. But connected 
with this is that other truth that our suffering here is 
for " a little while." We can sing, with some prospect 
of release, "I would not live alway." We can antici- 
pate with gladness the time when we shall depart and 
be with Christ, which is far better. It is this pros- 
pect which has cheered many a pilgrim on his way, 
and supported many a saint on a bed of languishing. 
They would have given up, but they were cheered in 
the present trial by the remembrance that it was only 
for " a little while." So soldiers in a beleaguered for- 
tress will hold out, with the prospect of relief by and 
by. In the Sepoy rebellion a little band of missionary 
families and others, cooped up in the city of Luck- 
now, stood out against the murderous onslaught of the 
rebels to almost the last point of desperation and 
despair. They knew that to yield would be to be rav- 
aged and butchered, without mercy or quarter, by men 
maddened with the spirit of fiends. They might have 
given up, but they were confident of aid in a little 
while. But oh, how long the painful moments seemed ! 
At length, when despair was seizing them, the keen 
ear of one of their number caught the sound of distant 
music. Up she sprang with the glad cry, " Dinna ye 
hear it? Dinna ye hear it? It's the Hielanman's slo- 
gan ! Oh! dinna ye hear it?" How they listened! 
What an agony of suspense they were in ! Hark ! 
they do hear it ! The weird music from the pipes 
of the brave Seventy-eighth reaches them ; relief has 
come; and now, frantic with joy, they throw them- 
selves on the ground, and pour out their hearts in 



218 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



rapturous praise. Whittier has put this story into 
verse : — 

" Oh ! they listened, looked, and waited, 
Till their hope became despair ; 
And the sobs of low bewailing 

Filled the pauses of their prayer. 
Then up spake a Scottish maiden, 

With her ear unto the ground : 
* Dinna ye heSr it ? Dinna ye hear it ? 
The pipes o' Havelock sound ! 3 

" Oh ! they listened, dumb and breathless, 

And they caught the sound at last ; 
Faint and far beyond the Goomtee 

Rose and fell the piper's blast! 
Then a burst of wild thanksgiving 

Mingled woman's voice and man's : 
4 God be praised ! — the march of Havelock ! 

The piping of the clans ! ' " 

It is hope that keeps the heart whole. It is the 
expectation of deliverance after "a little while" that 
keeps many a one from sinking in despair. Delight- 
ful is it to a soul tormented with the ills of this life, 
and tortured with the besetments of sin, to hear his 
Master's voice, Who comes not only to bring him aid, 
but to call him home. On many a bed of languish- 
ing, in many a weary heart, while there may not be 
impatience, there is an earnest longing and looking 
for the coming of the Son of Man. " For we that are 
in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for 
that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that 
mortality might be swallowed up of life." But to him 
who waits and watches as one watches for the morn- 
ing, the encouraging language comes: " Be patient; 



A LITTLE WHILE. 



219 



be of good courage ; in ' a little while ' Christ will 
come." 

" Yet a season, and you know 
Happy entrance will be given, 
All our sorrows left below, 
And earth exchanged for heaven ! n 

Cheered by such assurances, the fainting heart is made 
strong. Yes, it is blessed to' feel that these tears are 
•soon to be dried, these sorrows are not to be endured 
long. On all our painful experiences light breaks, 
amid our thickest gloom the words shine out, " A little 
while ! " 

Now, as we are to be only for " a little while," let 
us plan and act accordingly. Let us build in a hum- 
ble way. Let us not think of making this world our 
home. Let us be sober, temperate, moderate. Let 
us hold loosely to these lower things, knowing that 
" the time is short." 

As we have but a little while to do, with reference 
to God, ourselves, and others, let us be up and doing. 
The shortness of our stay here, with life's lengthening 
shadows, demands that we do with our might whatso- 
ever our hand findeth to do. Life is a seed-time ; on 
the diligence of the present the bountifulness of the 
harvest depends. 

As we have but a little while to suffer, let us be 
thankful that our stay here is so short. But " a little 
while," and the storms of life will be over, and if 
Christ's, the everlasting recompense of heaven shall be 
ours. Oh, that we could believe this ! Oh, that we 
might find rest, comfort, sweetness, in the thought ! 
As one writes : — 



220 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



" Oh, for the peace which floweth as a river, 
Making life's desert places bloom and smile ! 
Oh, for the faith to grasp heaven's bright 1 forever* 
Amid the shadows of that ' little while ' ! 
* A little while ' for patient vigil keeping, 
To face the storm, to wrestle with the strong ; 
1 A little while ' to sow the seed, with weeping, 
Then bind the sheaves and sing the harvest-song. 

" 'A little while ' to wear the robe of sadness, 
And toil with weary step through miry ways ; 
Then to pour forth the fragrant oil of gladness, 
And clasp the girdle round the robe of praise. 
4 A little while,' 'midst shadow and illusion, 
To strive, by faith, love's mysteries to spell; 
Then read each dark enigma's bright solution, 
And hail sight's verdict, ' He doth all things well.' 

" ' A little while ' the earthen pitcher taking 
To wayside brooks, from far-off fountains fed ; 
Then the cool lip its thirst forever slaking 
Beside the fulness of the Fountain-head. 
' A little while ' to keep the oil from failing, 
c A little while ' faith's flickering lamp to trim ; 
And then the Bridegroom's coming footsteps hailing, 
To haste to meet Him with the bridal hymn. 

" Thus He who is Himself the gift and giver, 
The future glory and the present smile, 
With the bright promise of the glad forever 
Can light the shadows of the ' little while/ " 



THE 

MOTHER OF ZEBEDEE'S CHILDREN. 



Of the mother of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux we have the fol- 
lowing : Alice was an admirable woman ; all the biographies of 
Bernard unite in giving her the credit of his early education. 
He was one of a large family of children, all of whom were fed 
from the bosom of their mother; for she entertained the idea that 
the infant with the milk it drew from a stranger's bosom imbibed 
also some portion of the quality and temperament of the nurse, — 
therefore, while her children were young, they had no attendant 
but herself. 

Mrs. Anna Jameson. 



XVII. 



THE MOTHER OF ZEBEDEE'S CHILDREN. 

The ?nother of Zebedee's children. — Matt. xx. 20. 

HERE was an ambitious mother who, supposing 
that Christ had come to establish a temporal 
kingdom, desired that her two sons should be His 
chief ministers. Peter, then, could not have been 
supreme as yet among the apostles. 

I call your attention to the expression, " The mother 
of Zebedee's children." It is not meant that she 
was their stepmother, for the occasion and the nature 
of the petition indicate that they were her own sons. 
The same expression is used elsewhere. We read that 
at the crucifixion " Many women were there beholding 
afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering 
unto Him: among which was Mary Magdalene, and 
Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother 
of Zebedee's children." 

It has been suggested that possibly Zebedee at this 
time was dead, or that he was not so constant a fol- 
lower of Christ as his wife was, and that this may ac- 
count for the expression. On the other hand, we may 
suppose that he was distinguished for piety, and that 



224 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



his own name served better to describe his wife and 
children. Certainly he was fortunate in having such 
sons, — sons whom Christ saw fit to call into the apos- 
tleship and to make His intimate friends (one of them 
the " beloved disciple"), the two, with Peter, witnessing 
the transfiguration, and both, after our Lord's ascen- 
sion, spoken of, with Peter, as " pillars " in the Church. 
They were brought up to labor, and must have hon- 
ored their father. It is a pleasing fact that when 
called by Christ they were " in a ship with Zebedee 
their father, mending their nets." 

What an identity of interest runs through the house- 
hold ! The father's integrity honors the child, the 
child's uprightness honors the father. The name of 
the one is involved in the honor or the disgrace of 
the other. " Children's children are the crown of old 
men ; and the glory of children are their fathers." 
How frequently, in the Scriptures, are parents' names 
mentioned in connection with the honorable or dis- 
honorable acts of their children ! The faith of Moses' 
parents, the piety of Naomi, mother-in-law of Ruth, 
the devotedness of Hannah, mother of Samuel, form 
a part of their children's history. Nor in the record 
of the kings of Israel and Judah are the parents' 
names omitted. To tell whose child a king was, es- 
pecially who his mother was, seems as important as to 
tell what were the chief events of his reign. This is 
particularly noticeable with reference to the kings of 
Judah. Hence in very many instances, when the 
son's name is mentioned as succeeding his father on 
the throne, it is added, " His mother's name was 
Maacha," or " Zibiah," or some other, and " he did 



THE MOTHER OF ZEBEDEE'S CHILDREN. 22$ 



that which was evil," or " that which was good in the 
sight of the Lord." 

In the New Testament, similar examples are fur- 
nished. Poor old Simon had to share in the pain and 
ignominy of his son Judas' betrayal. Much as the 
father might have wished to conceal the relationship, 
it was impossible. Faithful history again and again 
points out the traitor as Judas Iscariot, " the son of 
Simon." Thus are father and son's names linked in 
lasting infamy. On the other hand, what an object 
of pride was Timothy ! His unfeigned faith is com- 
mended, dwelling first in his grandmother Lois and his 
mother Eunice. From a child he had known the holy 
Scriptures ; and now that he is chosen to the sacred 
ministry his piety reflects creditably upon his parents, 
and theirs reflects creditably upon him. I have no 
doubt Salome was proud to be called the " mother of 
Zebedee's children." Like the Roman mother, she 
could say, " These are my jewels ! " 

And does not the same law of common interest or 
of reflected honor or disgrace between parents and 
children obtain at the present day? Nay, does it not 
belong to the family relation? What can raise one's 
proud " pretensions " higher, or give better ground for 
boasting, than to be 

" The son of parents passed into the skies ? " 

And what can impart more comfort to parents than to 
see their children occupying honorable and useful po- 
sitions in life? I am pleased to see that there are bus- 
iness houses where the name of a deceased father is 
retained in the name of the firm. You now and then 

*5 



226 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



meet with advertisements in which the language is not 
" late firm of," or " successors to," but such a man's 
" sons." The father has long since ceased from the 
interests of earth, but his name and reputation are the 
best advertisement his sons can have. There is no 
need for their names to appear; it is enough to say 
that they are that man's " sons." 

A well-known statesman in a public , address said: 
" A few years ago I stood where the Potomac in 
silence rolls its waters. Upon its banks I saw, not the 
stately mausoleum, but in simple elegance the humble 
sepulchre of one whom the world delights to honor. 
In a sarcophagus of white marble — pure as the char- 
acter of him whom it commemorates — repose the 
ashes of him whose memory is immortal. No labored 
epitaph extols the virtues of him whose dust is there 
preserved, but a single word inscribed upon that stone 
tells a tale of fame and glory. It is the name of 
i Washington.' In an humble graveyard, some miles 
distant from that tomb, rest the ashes of a mother, — 
an American mother, a Christian mother. On the 
marble above her remains is an inscription simple but 
eloquent, — language that thrills the heart, — none 
other need be uttered, — women of America, hear 
it ! — ' Mary, the mother of Washington ! ' " 

Some years ago two fathers went from New York 
city to visit their sons, but with feelings and in cir- 
cumstances widely different. One had had the satisfac- 
tion of seeing his son elected to the chief magistracy 
of the State, and upon going to the capita] was re- 
ceived with pleasure and pride into the executive 
mansion. The other was summoned to the capital 



THE MOTHER OF ZEBE DEE'S CHILDREN. 22*] 



of the nation to see, with agony, his son confined 
within the walls of a prison, his hands stained with 
the blood of his fellow-man. 

Oh, how truly may children be a source of unspeak- 
able joy or of grief to those who gave them being ! 
Some cause their parents to look upon and speak of 
them with pride ; others bring down their gray hairs 
with sorrow to the grave. It is a true saying that 
children cause the highest pleasure or the sharpest 
pain. Alas, that so many young persons go astray ! 
How many homes are blighted ! How does the dis- 
covery of one dead body bring out hundreds of pa- 
rents to see if it is not the body of their missing child ! 
Says a writer: " The very air is poisoned in which our 
children live. No legislation, no single reform can 
touch this disease, any more than it could cure the 
malaria which slays its victims by the thousand. It 
is for each family, each clergyman, each mother, to 
clean and sweeten their own household." 

You ask now, How is this to be done ? 

I. I reply first, by teaching your children habits of 
obedience. Everything depends on this. It is a Divine 
command : " Children, obey your parents in the Lord : 
for this is right." " Honor thy father and thy mother: 
that thy days may be long upon the land which the 
Lord thy God giveth thee." One of the objects of 
the family is that children may learn submission to 
authority while young. Nor is it to be expected that 
this lesson, if it be not learned under the paternal roof, 
will be learned afterwards. The lawless child grows 
up to be an outlaw in society and a rebel against God. 
It is one great step towards the conversion of a child 



228 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



when it has learned obedience to parents. Besides 
the precept, much is said in the Scriptures on this 
subject. Under the Jewish law the child that should 
smite or curse his father or his mother was to be put 
to death. Still further, it is written. " If a man have a 
stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the 
voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, 
when they have chastened him, will not. hearken unto 
them : then shall his father and his mother . . . bring 
him . . . unto the gate of his place ; . . . and all the 
men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he 
die." Again it is written : " Cursed be he that setteth 
light by his father or his mother; " and again: "The 
eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey 
his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, 
and the young eagles shall eat it." Take the example 
of sons that came to a bad end, — the sons of Eli, the 
sons of David, — and you find it was in connection 
with parental neglect; or take such examples as the 
world is constantly furnishing, and you find, on the 
one hand, children that are taught submission come 
to usefulness and honor, while on the other, children 
that are suffered to have their own way grow up to be 
a curse to their parents and to the world. It is as true 
to-day as it ever was, " Train up a child in the way he 
should go, and when he is old he will not depart from 
it." Count not, then, parents, upon coming satisfac- 
tion with your children if you are not restraining them 
as you ought. A disobedient child is a hopeless child. 
You may flatter yourself that by some turn of fortune 
he will be brought to his senses ; but it is a frail hope. 
As soon might one who sees an abandoned vessel driv- 



THE MOTHER OF ZE BE DEE'S CHILDREN. 22g 



ing upon the rocks hope that by and by the wind will 
vere, and that somehow ship and cargo will yet come 
safely into port. No ! you must seize the rudder now. 
The more furiously the storm drives, the more need of 
instant action. Tax all your strength and wisdom, and 
guide that young nature with its mistaken notions and 
ardent propensities into a wider and safer sea. To fail 
now is to make shipwreck of your child and of all the 
hopes and comforts that you have stored in him. It 
is a notorious fact that the present age is one in which 
the children rule instead of the parents, and to what 
this is leading no mind can divine. It is making fami- 
lies discordant, destroying respect for authority, and 
opening the door to outlawry in the State. Many 
parents are weaving thorns in their own pillows. The 
parental relation is a sacred one; it involves fearful 
responsibilities, and no man is worthy to be intrusted 
with the care of a child who does not maintain in his 
family discipline and order. It was said of Abraham : 
" I know him, that he will command his children and 
his household after him." 

2. Again, if you would find pleasure in your chil- 
dren you should bring them up to habits of industry. 
Children must be kept employed. Nothing is truer 
than the lines, — 

"For Satan finds some mischief still 
For idle hands to do." 

A habit of industry secured in early life will go with 
one into riper years. It will keep a youth from bad 
company, where vice is strengthened and evil is con- 
cocted. It will prevent the formation of bad habits, 



230 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



which stupefy the conscience, break down social and 
moral restraints, and lead him off into shameful and 
ruinous courses. It will give a healthy tone to his 
system, inspire to vigorous effort, and impart courage 
to the attainment of high and laudable ends. It will 
teach the economy of time, by which many precious 
moments will be rescued for the acquisition of knowl- 
edge and the culture of the mind. It will enable him 
to do for himself or for the world whatever his talents 
and ambition may qualify him to do. The men who 
have written the most largely, or wrought out some 
permanent good to society, or succeeded in any sphere 
of life, have been commonly men of industrious habits. 
The sluggard is not the man to whom either health, 
wealth, or honor is likely to come. He is but a drone 
in society, — an idler living upon other men's labors. 
It were well if the apostolic injunction could be put in 
force, " If any man will not work, neither shall he eat." 
When we look at the amount of labor which some men 
have put forth, we cannot but bless God for the men, 
their industry and their labors. 

The early history of this country furnishes some 
notable instances of distinction coupled with industry, 
— men of whom their parents might well be proud. 
Roger Sherman in his early apprentice days was lay- 
ing the foundation for his subsequent greatness; for 
instead of joining in idle conversation he kept a book 
at hand, and devoted every possible moment to study. 
Benjamin Franklin was another who filled with some 
useful occupation every instant of time. " With the 
early morn he rose, and with the stars he watched." 
The same was true of the Philadelphia pastor and 



THE MOTHER OF ZEBEDEE'S CHILDREN. 23 1 



commentator, the late Albert Barnes. The secret of 
his having written sixteen volumes of notes on the 
Old and New Testaments, in addition to the labors 
of a large pastoral charge, he explains by quoting 
the reply of an old writer : " It is to be accounted for 
by the difference between seven and nine o'clock." 
Those sixteen volumes, he tells us, were all written be- 
fore nine o'clock in the morning, and were the fruit of 
the habit of rising between four and five. Thus it ap- 
pears what a diligent use of the morning hours may 
accomplish. 

Nor was it from idlers that Christ chose His apostles. 
He did not look up in the market-place men that were 
waiting for a call. He sought out rather those that 
had a pursuit, and were busy in it. Andrew and Peter 
were in the act of fishing. James and John were mend- 
ing their nets. Matthew was sitting at the receipt of 
customs. Philip, the ancient commentators think, is 
the one who at His call replied, " Suffer me first to 
go and bury my father." Bartholomew, who is com- 
monly thought to be the same as Nathanael, was called 
from under the fig-tree, engaged, it would seem, in 
meditation and prayer. All had something to do and 
something to leave. " Lo, we have left all," said Peter, 
" and followed Thee." There are calls at the present 
day, — calls for earnest men in all the departments of 
thought and action. In the Church and in the State, 
in literature, in science, and in art, in the strife for 
wealth, in grand exploit and brilliant discovery, in the 
search for truth, in the investigation of principles, in 
the application of knowledge, in the amelioration of 
society, in the advancement of reform, in everything 



232 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



worthy of man's effort, there is room, — room, not for 
idlers, but for true men ; men who love to work, and 
who will make their mark upon the age. It is such 
that the world seeks ; it is only such that it will honor. 

3. Again, give to your children the advantages of 
the Sabbath-school. This is an institution that God 
has greatly blessed. The adoption of uniform lessons 
has added to its usefulness. It has advantages in 
the early period in which it addresses the heart, in the 
closer access to the young which it furnishes, in its 
methods of instruction, and in its reflex influence upon 
those who teach. 

The Sabbath-school is properly called the " nursery 
of the Church." Here revivals of religion often com- 
mence. Here the new recruits for the Lord's army 
are raised up. One important benefit which the Sab- 
bath-school, as a national institution, is working, is in 
its receiving and assimilating the crude material that 
comes to us from foreign lands. Many immigrants to 
this country bring with them qualities that may well 
excite alarm. Some are ignorant and vicious ; some 
are educated and godless ; some are hostile to our 
institutions and laws. These people must be evan- 
gelized, or they will cause us trouble. Many agen- 
cies are at work, and much is being done to save and 
utilize these foreign elements. The Sabbath-school 
addresses the children, and through these many par- 
ents are reached. In the large cities many Jewish 
children are thus won to the Saviour. At a Sabbath- 
school teachers' convention a delegate from the Five 
Points' Mission in New York city, in speaking of the 
different elements in his school, and of the work 



THE MOTHER OF ZEBE DEE'S CHILDREN. 233 

required, said : " We have in our school between thirty 
and forty Jewish children ; and since our school com- 
menced, over thirty of these children have received a 
reward of a Bible for committing to memory the Sa- 
viour's Sermon upon the Mount, — that Saviour whom 
their fathers crucified. Last Sabbath morning, when I 
had closed my sermon, I turned to the children and 
asked, 4 What shall we sing?' One beautiful child, a 
bright-eyed, black-haired little Jewess about thirteen, 
replied immediately, " Sing, — 

" 'Alas ! and did my Saviour bleed, 
And did my Sovereign die ? ' 

And before any others had commenced, she, with a 
sweet voice, had begun the hymn. Let me say that 
from the commencement of our work the blessing of 
God has been manifested and poured out in an especial 
manner. While I am here as a delegate from that 
mission I have left my assistant to pray with and over 
and for eight or ten of those Sabbath-school children 
who last Sunday night at our meeting arose in the 
congregation and said, with tears trickling down their 
cheeks, ' Pray for us.' " This is but a specimen of what 
the Sabbath-school is doing for the millions of children 
of all classes in our country. Give it the widest possi- 
ble encouragement, then ; smile upon the detachment 
of this great army that exists here among yourselves. 
Be solicitous that your children attend the school, and 
are regularly in their place, with the lesson learned. 
Be either a teacher or a scholar yourself. That is a 
good way to keep children in the school. See that 
the library is ample, and is constantly replenished. 



234 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



Grudge no money and spare no pains to make the 
school in all respects what it should be. You may 
be sure that a blessing is in it, and if you do your 
duty, you may expect that a share in that blessing will 
come to your family and to yourself. 

4. Finally, see that your children have religions in- 
struction at home. The Sabbath-school was never de- 
signed to supersede the family. You, are chargeable 
with great folly and great guilt if you neglect your 
children on the plea that they are instructed in the 
Sabbath-school. That is a valuable aid, but can never 
be a substitute. Sabbath-school instruction, though it 
be faithfully given, is but a moiety of the instruction 
that they should receive. How frequently and seri- 
ously were the Jews charged to make their children 
familiar with the statutes, judgments, and miraculous 
works of God ! " Ye shall teach them your children, 
speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and 
when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, 
and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them 
upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy 
gates." If parents observed this command in its spirit 
at the present day, I am sure that they would oftener 
see their children converted, and derive satisfaction and 
honor from their useful lives. Said Dr. James Hamil- 
ton, " Those of you who are best acquainted with the 
world, or who have read most extensively the histories 
of men, will allow that in the formation of character 
the most telling influence is the early home. It is that 
home which often in boyhood has formed beforehand 
our most famous scholars, our most celebrated heroes, 
our most devoted missionaries; and even when men 



THE MOTHER OF ZEBEDEE'S CHILDREN. 2$$ 



have grown up reckless and reprobate, and have 
broken all restraints, human and divine, the last anchor 
which has dragged, the last cable they have been able 
to snap, is the memory which moored them to a 
virtuous home." 

Notwithstanding the revived interest in Sabbath- 
school instruction, there is reason to believe that 
family religion has declined very much of late. The 
family altar is thrown down in many a household, or 
has never been set up. The word of God is not 
studied, expounded, or enforced in the home circles 
with the devoutness and interest that characterized 
the former generation, and the consequence is that 
the children are growing up to " cast off fear and re- 
strain prayer." In some places boarding-house or 
hotel life is exerting a bad influence, encouraging 
luxury, indolence, and gayety, and taking away from 
that sacred word " home " all that gives it sweetness, 
pathos, and power. Children reared in such circum- 
stances almost necessarily become selfish, idle, and 
vicious. I am sure that our homes must be reclaimed 
for Christ before the children that come from them 
shall honor us or bless the world. When there is 
more of the religious element infused into them ; when 
prayer and singing and Scripture-reading and familiar 
instruction and words of love and a correct example 
are the true indices of a Christian household, — then 
we may expect to see coming from them sons and 
daughters whose virtue and worth shall add to the 
honor of the parents, and embalm in grateful recollec- 
tion their own names. 



YOUNG MEN STRONG. 



Young man or woman, this is the day of hope to you. All 
your best opportunities are still before you. Now, too, you are 
laying your plans for the future. Why not lay them in God ? 
Who has planned for you as wisely and faithfully as He ? Let 
your life begin with Him. Believe that you are girded by your 
God for a holy and great calling. Go to Him and consecrate your 
life to Him, knowing assuredly that He will lead you into just 
that life which is your highest Jionor and blessing. 

Horace Bushnell. 



XVIII. 



YOUNG MEN STRONG. 



1 have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong. — 



OUNG men have prominence in the Scriptures. 



JL Numerous precepts are addressed to them, and 
in many of the narratives and incidents they have a 
conspicuous part. The three hundred and eighteen 
trained servants whom Abram led forth to rescue Lot 
were young men. It was young men, it would seem, 
who were sent as spies into the land of Canaan. 
Caleb, of the tribe of Judah, and Joshua, of the tribe of 
Ephraim, took the lead, and they lived to see the forty 
years' march completed. The two spies who were 
sent into the city of Jericho were young men. In the 
wars of David young men bore an active part. It was 
by taking the counsel of unprincipled young men that 
Rehoboam rent his kingdom and was left with but 
two tribes. It was by young men, princes of the prov- 
inces, that Ahab defeated with great slaughter Ben- 
hadad, king of Syria, and his leagued army. Young 
men were of the number, if not in the majority, of 
those who apprehended the Saviour in the garden. 



i John ii. 14. 




240 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



" There followed Him a certain young man." " And 
the young men laid hold on Him." It was young 
men who took up the bodies of Ananias and Sapphira, 
and carrying them out, buried them. What a record 
have we also of individual young men ! How interest- 
ing the story of Isaac ! How spotless and beautiful 
the life of - Joseph ! How remarkable the elevation 
of David ! What womanly sweetness in the love 
of Jonathan ! What determination in Daniel ! How 
marked the piety and resolution of his three compan- 
ions ! How touching the story of the young man 
whom Jesus gave back to his mother at the gates of 
Nain ! How remarkable the history of the young 
man who stood by consenting, and kept the raiment 
of them that stoned Stephen ! 

I. In the text the apostle says : " I have written 
unto you, young men, because ye are strong." Young 
men are always strong ; they are strong because they 
are young men. 

I. They are strong in hope. They have not found 
by experience that earthly hopes — 

" Resemble much the sun, 
That, rising and declining, casts large shadows ; 
But when his beams are dressed in midday brightness, 
Yields none at all." 

As the arrow when it leaves the bow starts with great- 
est velocity, so there is needed at the beginning of 
life a propulsion that shall carry one through adverse 
circumstances to the subsidence and rest of old age. 

" Congenial hope, thy passion-kindling power 
How bright, how strong, in youth's untroubled hour ! " 



YOUNG MEN STRONG. 



241 



2. Young men are strong in courage. Hopeful, 
not knowing defeat, conscious of physical strength, and 
feeling the impulses of an ardent nature, what else can 
they be? This is true particularly with regard to phys- 
ical courage ; and if the impulses be sanctified, it is 
true also with regard to moral courage. To dare is a 
characteristic of youth. Indeed, the tendency is to too 
great boldness, the want of knowledge leading to want 
of fear. But ordinarily it is among the young that 
you find the brave. The armies of the world have 
been made up of young men. It is the flower of a 
nation that goes forth to maintain its rights or re- 
deem its honor, and sometimes at deadly cost. Many 
military leaders fought their hardest battles and won 
their highest honors before they turned the period 
of youth. This statement is given : " Alexander the 
Great won a name at the age of eighteen, had con- 
quered the world before he was twenty-five, and 
died at thirty-two. Julius Caesar greatly distinguished 
himself before he was twenty-two. Hannibal was 
made commander-in-chief at twenty-six. Charlemagne 
was crowned king at twenty-nine, having made himself 
master of France and the greater part of Germany. 
Scipio Africanus the elder attained his greatest re- 
nown at twenty-nine, Scipio Africanus the younger 
at twenty-six; Philip of Macedon at twenty-five; 
Peter the Great at thirty; Charles XII. at twenty- 
four; Frederick the Great at thirty; Napoleon at 
twenty-six ; Marshal Soult at twenty-nine ; and many 
of Napoleon's great marshals before the age of 
thirty-five." In our civil war the average age of the 
officers of the United States army was only thirty- 

16 



242 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



five years, and that of the entire body of soldiery 
only twenty-four. 

3. Young men are strong to execute. They not only . 
dare, but do. Hope and courage culminate in realiza- 
tion. Great achievements generally spring from a 
vigorous brain and a stalwart arm. Whatever one 
distinguishes himself in, wherever he wins his highest 
honors, not simply on the field of battle, but on that 
of letters, science, or art, he usually, like the military 
chieftain, makes his mark and gains his highest suc- 
cesses young. Not that there are no exceptions ; not 
that a gifted mind may not sometimes rise above its 
earlier efforts, — but usually the greatest productions 
originate in an early ripeness, and not in an over- 
maturity of years. Poets, painters, and orators have 
often, if not commonly, like soldiers, won their high- 
est honors young. Campbell's " Pleasures of Hope " 
was written at the age of twenty-one ; Milton's " L' Al- 
legro," " II Penseroso," and " Comus," at twenty-four, 
leading to the remark, " Had he never even written 
1 Paradise Lost,' these pieces must have stamped him 
a poet in the most elevated sense of the word." 
Pope's " Essay on Criticism " was written at the age 
of twenty, and " displays," says Dr. Johnson, M such 
extent of comprehension, such variety of distinction, 
such acquaintance with mankind, and such knowl- 
edge both of ancient and modern learning as are not 
often attained by the maturest age and the longest 
experience." 

Especially are young men strong to execute physi- 
cally. Who are the pioneers of civilization ; who level 
the forests; who build new cities and people new 



YOUNG MEN STRONG. 



243 



States? Young men. Go to any of those new set- 
tlements at the West, and how few old men do you 
find there ! Everything bears the freshness, glow, and 
energy of youth. Thus and variously is illustrated the 
Divine statement, " The glory of young men is their 
strength." 

II. We have seen why the apostle wrote to young 
men, — because they are strong. Now notice the obli- 
gations of strength. Strength implies duties. Parents 
must lay up for children; the big boy in the street 
must defend the one who is smaller and weaker. If 
there be then this mighty reserve of power in young 
men, what are we to expect them to do? 

I. Young men should consecrate themselves to God. 
It was to such as had done this that the apostle wrote : 
" I have written unto you, young men, because ye 
are strong, and the word of God abideth in you y and ye 
have overcome the wicked one!' Clearly where there 
is so much strength abiding, the word of God should 
abide also, and that strength, directed and intensified 
by the word of God, should find an object in overcom- 
ing the wicked one. Oh, what a spectacle is a noble, 
high-purposed Christian young man ! With what an 
interest do angels gaze upon him, and how do the 
hearts of all who love the cause of God and of truth 
in the world warm towards him ! He is one in whom 
are lodged divine energies, who is to be a moving 
power in the world, to draw after him the freighted 
interests and hopes of men. I may not now speak of 
the claims of God upon young men, Who says to each, 
" My son, give Me thine heart; " nor of the greater 
ease with which an interest in the grace of Christ may 



244 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



be sought and obtained in youth ; nor may I turn aside 
to consider the advantages to one's self of consecrated 
powers, the satisfaction and peace and heavenly re- 
wards that follow, — I look out rather upon the world 
itself, and then, turning to young men, say, " Where 
there is so much strength, it ought to be turned to 
good account." Just as one might stand at Niagara 
and say, " What an energy is here, and how useful it 
might be if it were only employed ! " Niagara is 
grander in its Avild waste of power than if its course 
were lined with factories whose rattling wheels should 
rival the water's roar. But it is not so with young 
men. In them all waste of power is displeasing to 
the eye and painful to the heart of every one who 
beholds it. Hence I say the strength they possess 
should be early consecrated, and so turned into legiti- 
mate channels. Power not consecrated is power to 
do evil, and will be so employed. Not like Niagara, 
mighty, yet restrained within its own limits, will such 
power be, but like Niagara overflowing its banks and 
sweeping everything to awful ruin. Reflect for a 
moment on the difference between a converted and 
an unconverted young man. Had the philosophy of 
Hume, the genius of Byron, and the penetration of 
Voltaire been consecrated, who can estimate the good 
which these men might have done ; while the mischief 
that they have wrought and occasioned would have 
been averted ! To prevent evil is well ; but if ener- 
gies and powers can be turned to account and made 
positively efficient for good, it is better. The stream 
that overspreads fruitful fields, and occasions great 
destruction of property and even of human life, were 



YOUNG MEN STRONG. 



245 



well mastered if it could only be turned into legiti- 
mate channels and made to find its way peacefully to 
the sea. But it were a greater triumph if at the same 
time it could be made an instrument of good, and 
compelled as it rolls along to turn wheel after wheel, 
and cause mill and factory to hum with the music of 
busy days and of useful work. The converted youth 
is like such a stream. 

There are two respects in which early piety has to 
do with increased usefulness. First, a better character 
will be formed where a beginning is made soon. By a 
complete education every faculty may be developed 
and brought into use, good habits too may be formed, 
and higher qualifications for usefulness generally be se- 
cured. But beyond this, it is evident if this power be 
not appropriated soon, the opportunity will pass, and 
he who might be an instrument of good will fail of this, 
because not brought into active use. Youth is not a 
mill-site which we may build upon when we will, but a 
power which the irreligious and secular world says, 
" You must appropriate at once, or I will." 

2. A second obligation resting upon young men is 
to know their strength. " Know thyself " is a general 
and important precept. But if there be any class to 
whom this may be addressed with special fitness, that 
class is young men. Nor is there any part or quality 
of themselves that they should better appreciate or 
understand than their strength. Consciousness of 
power must precede the use of power, else that power 
is but a latent force, or will be exerted in a baleful 
manner. If a man is placed in charge of an engine 
and does not know whether the power it possesses is 



246 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



represented by five or fifty, it is evident that he is not 
fit for his post, and that the danger is imminent so 
long as he is in it. So some young men manifest a 
like incompetence to manage themselves, never ap- 
proaching the limits of their power ; or, on the other 
hand, subjecting themselves to a pressure which over- 
comes and destroys them. 

I say to you then, young men, know yourselves; 
know your strength ; understand that you are at the 
most critical, eventful, hopeful period of your history. 
Realize that you are young men, and that immense 
capabilities are wrapped up in you. If ever I am in- 
clined to groan, it is when I see a young man stagger- 
ing towards me, the victim of low passions, his future 
blighted, his strength stolen, his character a wreck. If 
it moves the heart to look on some magnificent ruin, 
or to see a great ship tossed and broken by the tem- 
pest, much more does it touch our sensibilities to see 
a young man, — grander in his creation than any 
structure that human hands have perfected, — thus 
brought low by sinful pleasures, and ruined for all 
time. 

3. It is an obligation of strength that it shall be 
earnestly and usefully employed. To be known and 
consecrated implies this ; and yet there is much conse- 
cration that is partial, formal, and fruitless, and much 
consciousness or recognition of power that turns that 
power into selfish and unworthy channels. Were half 
the strength employed by young men in amassing 
wealth or acquiring fame, devoted to the building up 
of Christ's kingdom, the world would soon be evangel- 
ized and redeemed. Strength is a possession for which 



YOUNG MEN STRONG. 



247 



each man is accountable. Like every other talent, the 
charge with respect to it is, " Occupy till I come." 
The opportunities for usefulness are all that an earnest 
heart could wish. In town and country there is a 
call for helpers, and none can do more or better than 
young men. The organization of Young Men's Chris- 
tian Associations, and more recently of Societies of 
Christian Endeavor, is one of the hopeful signs of the 
times. Nor are women excluded from having a share 
in the great work of bringing the world to Christ. 
Paul speaks of the noble band of women who labored 
with him in the Gospel; and in our day there has 
been a wonderful enlargement of woman's work. Thus 
by manhood's strength, and woman's gentleness and 
love, the various departments of Christian effort are 
successfully filled. God bless those who, conscious 
of their gentler power, are consecrating it with their 
brothers' strength upon the same altar ; nor let any one 
think his task too hard, or faint in a work so blessed. 

"O favored one ! thy cross press closer to thee, 
With humble thanks for that He thinks thee worthy 
E'en to taste His cup and in His baptism share, 
And for a little while His blood-stained cross to bear ! 
Soon Jesus' welcome summons thou shalt hear, 
' Rise, let us go hence ! ' Then stayed the falling tear, 
Low at His feet thy cross thou shalt lay down, 
And from His hand receive the eternal crown." 



FAMILY RELIGION. 



Really it is disgraceful that men are so ill-taught and unpre- 
pared for social life as they are, often turning their best ener- 
gies, their acquisitions, and their special advantages into means 
of annoyance to those with whom they live. Some day it will be 
found out that to bring up a man with a genial nature, a good 
temper, and a happy form of mind is a greater effort than to per- 
fect him in much knowledge and many accomplishments. 

Arthur Helps. 



XIX. 



FAMILY RELIGION: ITS HINDRANCES, BLES- 
SINGS, AND METHODS. 

God setteth the solitary in families. — Psalm Ixviii. 6. 
"T^HE Family was the first Divine institution; then 



-L followed the Church, and then the State. The 
family is the foundation of the other two, and the 
three are the foundation of society. Out' of the fam- 
ily the Church is reinforced, and when the family 
becomes corrupt the State perishes. 

I. The hindrances to family religion are many. 
I. Marriage between a believer and an unbeliever. 
Some persons are opposed to such marriages both 
from reason and Scripture. A conscientious clergy- 
man refused to officiate at such marriages, and pub- 
lished a book on the subject in defence of his views. 
I think he strained the point, and did not rightly inter- 
pret the passage: " Be ye not unequally yoked to- 
gether with unbelievers." But when you come to 
family religion, it is manifest that if one of the parents 
has religion, and the other has not, there must be less 
of it. Christian mothers have said to me, " It is hard 
work to bring up my children alone ; my husband is a 
good man, he is kind, provides well for his family, but 




252 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



he does not help me religiously. All the praying and 
teaching I have to do alone." I should be afraid to 
have for a husband a man who would not pray with 
me and for his children ; and I should be afraid to have 
for the mother of my children a woman who was not 
daily lifting her heart to God, and teaching my chil- 
dren to do the same. It is a great hindrance to fam- 
ily religion if either refuses to come out as a Christian, 
and does not live a life of prayer. 

2. The absence of a family altar is a hindrance to 
family religion. One of the first articles that a young 
married couple should set up in their dwelling is a 
family altar. Think of children never hearing their 
father's voice in prayer ! How discouraging to them 
to pray and to join the Church ! There are parents 
who stand in the way of their children's salvation. 
The long, formal prayer is not called for ; but a family 
service in which all unite is a happy beginning of 
each day, benign in its influence and lasting in its 
impression. 

3. The neglect of infant consecration is a hindrance 
to family religion. A child given to God and trained 
for God is more likely to become a Christian than one 
not thus consecrated. Christian parents will be faith- 
ful without vows ; but when vows are made, it is likely 1 
that they will be remembered, and excite to greater 
fidelity. 

4. The neglect of catechetical instruction is a hin- 
drance to family religion. The old methods may pass, 
but truth and the human heart remain the same. The 
need of faithful religious instruction must always con- 
tinue, and where such instruction is furnished, good 



FAMILY RELIGION. 



253 



results follow. It is not necessary to teach the Cate- 
chism in a hard, dry way, to get the good of it. If 
parents relished it, their children would find sweetness 
in it too. 

5. The Sunday-school is not at fault, but some 
persons are at fault by the way they use it. It was 
originated for those who had not Christian parents to 
instruct them. Now, some Christian parents delegate 
to the teachers duties belonging to themselves. They 
are perhaps teachers, and are too tired to give addi- 
tional instruction to their own children at home. In 
some places children are kept from the preaching ser- 
vices, and are made to think that the Sunday-school is 
enough for them. They miss the more impressive 
exercises of public worship ; and when they have out- 
grown the Sunday-school, they lose their interest in 
the Church. With the study of undenominational 
lessons, too, they have widened, but not intensified, 
their beliefs. 

6. Hotel life is a hindrance to family religion. Per- 
sons who have not the liberties of their own dwelling 
can hardly rear children as they should be reared. 
Children can have no correct idea of a home if they 
have never lived in one. Wealth has created in many 
instances summer and winter homes ; but if each 
home is well furnished, it becomes but half a home, 
and if one is only a staying place, it is no home at all. 
Persons who spend months in two places, with two 
churches and Sunday-schools to sustain, half inter- 
ested in both, giving to and working for both, will 
hardly find their experience promotive of personal or 
family religion. Dr. John Hall has written a book for 



254 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



the American Sunday-school Union, entitled, " A Chris- 
tian Home." In this he says : " It is good, if possible, 
to be in a home, not a boarding-house nor a hotel. It 
may be ' love in a cottage,' and it may be humble ; but 
it is commonly better adapted to the growth of a true, 
pure, simple life than ' rooms ' in one of those non-mili- 
tary barracks which the needs of our great cities are 
supposed to demand. We adhere to the conviction 
that a modest, self-contained dwelling is morally more 
healthy, more conducive to permanent happiness, more 
likely to have its ' grace before meat/ its family altar, 
and its practical prudence in management, than the 
' nicest apartments ' in the most attractive hotel." 

7. A faulty example is a hindrance to family reli- 
gion. You may have a home and religious instruc- 
tion; but children are keen observers, and actions 
speak louder than words. Prayer, Bible, and Cate- 
chism cannot atone for a faulty life. 

8. The spirit of the age is in some respects at vari- 
ance with family religion. The railroads interfere with 
family altars. Places of amusement vie with prayer- 
meetings. Social customs supplant the strict etiquette 
of former times. Business is too driving to allow 
fathers to give much attention to their families, and 
fashion is too absorbing to allow mothers to nurse 
and train their own children. Whatever keeps a 
father from his home is an irreparable loss to his 
family, and a hired nurse is the poorest substitute 
for a mother. Men cannot get time to say prayers in 
the morning, and Sundays they must give to sleep. 
Women must dress and move in the social world, and 
children must not stand in the way. 



FAMILY RELIGION. 



255 



Thus I have sought to suggest, without discussing, 
some of the hindrances to family religion. 
Let us notice the second point. 
II. The blessings of family religion. 

1. It is a blessing to be born into a Christian house- 
hold. We cannot choose, but if we are in a godly 
line, we ought to be thankful. It puts us within the 
reach of promises; it places us where a current of 
prayer descends upon us ; it sets our faces in the di- 
rection of an on-going good. If we are not in such a 
line, we ought to start one, and pray for those in that 
line who shall come after us. " My son," said a father 
to his child, "you were prayed for a hundred years 
ago." Ought we not to bless God for such prayers, 
and for the fathers and mothers who offered them? 
You recall Cowper's lines at seeing his mother's 
picture : — 

" My boast is not that I deduce my birth 
From loins enthroned and rulers of the earth, 
But higher far my proud pretensions rise, — 
The son of parents passed into the skies." 

2. It is a blessing to live in such a family, to breathe 
its air, to share its ministries, to feel its influence. 
Home is sanctuary and Eden ; but it is not a real 
paradise with Christ not in it. When husband and 
wife can kneel together and pray, and when the dear 
lambs are the objects of a like solicitude, and a com- 
mon love knits all, the earth-type of heaven comes 
nearest to be seen. What a magnificent description 
of such a family have we in " The Cotter's Saturday 
Night:" — 



256 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



" The parent-pair their secret homage pay, 
And proffer up to Heaven the warm request 
That He, who stills the raven's clamorous nest, 
And decks the lily fair in flowery pride, 
Would, in the way His wisdom sees the best, 
For them and for their little ones provide, 
But chiefly in their hearts with grace Divine preside." 

3. The memory of such a home is blessed. Some 
of us have such memories, and the tears fill our eyes. 
The American Tract Society has published the letter 
that the Rev. William Goodell wrote to his brother 
from Constantinople after the death of their father. 
Of the old rocky farm on a Vermont hillside he says: 
" If it were not all ploughed over, it was, I am confi- 
dent, almost every foot of it prayed over." And of 
the humble dwelling he writes: "There our godly 
father prayed for us with all prayer and supplication 
in the spirit; there, on every Sabbath eve, he asked 
us those solemn, important, and all-comprehensive 
questions from the Catechism ; and there, with eyes 
and heart raised to heaven, we used to sing, to the 
tune of Old Rochester, — 

" c God, my Supporter and my Hope.' 

And there, too, our mother, of precious memory, 
lived a life of poverty, patience, meekness, and faith. 
There she used to sit and card her wool by the light of 
the pine-knot, and sing to us those sweet words, — 

" 1 Hovering among the leaves there stands 
The sweet celestial Dove ; 
And Jesus on the branches hangs 
The banner of His love.' 



FAMILY RELIGION. 



257 



" And there, too, we assembled early one morning 
in her little bedroom to see her die. Her peace was 
like a river. She was full of triumph, and she was able 
to address to us words of heavenly consolation till she 
had actually crossed over into shallow water, within 
one minute of the opposite banks of the Jordan, 
heaven and all its glories full in view. It is a rare 
privilege we have all enjoyed in being descended from 
such parents. They were the children of the Great 
King; they belonged to the royal family; their names 
were on the catalogues of princes and of those that 
live forever ; they daily walked abroad with the con- 
scious dignity of heirs to a great estate, even an incor- 
ruptible inheritance ; and they have now gone to sit 
down with Christ on His throne." 

4. Christian homes are blessed because out of them 
good men come. Children trained for God are more 
likely to become the servants of God. Men who are 
going to do much for God must be converted young. 
The household is the hotbed in which the plants of 
righteousness get their start. Sometimes the dwelling 
may be the abode of poverty ; but if the home of piety, 
it may make the best offerings to the Church. The 
home of William Goodell was a very humble one; 
James King and Claudius Buchanan were poor boys ; 
Zwingle came from a shepherd's cabin ; Melanchthon 
from an armorer's workshop ; and Martin Luther from 
a miner's cottage. 

We reach now the third point. 

III. Methods of family religion. There must be 
some methods, — good methods, or bad methods. A 
family is a little government, and there is order there, 



258 BELIEVING AND DOING. 

or anarchy. It is evident that there are no patent 
right methods for training a household. The main 
factors in a Christian home are piety and common- 
sense. The methods will be such as these suggest. 

You ask, How shall I make mine an ideal Christian 
home? I do not know; but this is what I think with 
regard to every home : — 

1. The government should be shared by husband 
and wife together. It is a sorry state of things when 
the child can appeal from the decision of the father or 
mother, as to a higher court, and get the other parent's 
decision repealed. 

2. All deceits should be ruled out. Never tell a 
child that the medicine is good, and make believe take 
it, and cheat him with a bitter draught. Never say, 
" Don't you tell your father; " " Keep this from your 
mother ; " and make the child a party to a secret be- 
tween himself and you. Have no family secrets ; 
affect no mysterious airs; take the child into your 
councils; when you can, tell him all. Do not resort 
to tricks to save his tears ; do not feign things ; do 
not lie to him by word or conduct. If you wish to 
go out, and he cannot go, tell him so; do not slip 
away. If you cheat your child, as soon as he is older 
he will cheat you. If you have secrets that you keep 
from him, he will have secrets that he will keep from 
you. 

3. Do not frighten your child into falsehood; do 
not accuse or put questions that create a temptation ; 
reach your point by indirections, and be calm and 
serious, without temper ; do not excite and make mat- 
ters worse which you are trying to mend ; never seem 



FAMILY RELIGION. 



259 



to doubt a child's word; always drink everything in 
with entire simplicity. Trust him ; it will make him 
feel that he must be worthy of trust. 

4. Punishment in a Christian family is not a partic- 
ularly solemn or religious act. Some parents of ex- 
traordinary piety may mingle with it prayers and tears ; 
but ordinarily the offence should be properly noticed, 
with kindness and decision, and then given to the 
past. Punishment that says, " To-morrow, at such a 
time, we will meet and pray, and then I shall give you 
a whipping," is too cold-blooded for a Christian home. 
Nor should punishment be irregular, uncertain, or ill- 
proportioned. If you have paroxysms, do not show 
them in punishing, using a stick at one time and a 
straw at another for the same offence. 

5. Know whether your child is a man or a boy. 
Do not belittle him. Talk with him, draw him out, 
show respect for his opinions. Especially be free to 
enlighten him with regard to things that he ought to 
know. Do not send him to vile companions or bad 
books for information that opening manhood naturally 
and curiously seeks. Let a father's and a mother's 
love sanctify the most delicate lessons. 

6. Watch for opportunities to introduce religious 
themes pleasantly. Do not make the Sunday lesson 
in Bible or Catechism distasteful. Do not overdose 
with moral instruction. If you want your son to be- 
come a minister, do not be continually talking about 
it to him or in his presence. There is wonderful sig- 
nificance in what is said of Mary : " She kept all these 
things, and pondered them in her heart." I know a 
mother who was disappointed in her earnest desire 



260 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



that her son should be a minister, as it seemed to me, 
because she talked too much about it. 

7. If anything unpleasant is to be done, do not ask 
a child to do it, but do it yourself, — at least do a 
part of it. Always show consideration for a child's 
strength, feelings, circumstances. Do not forget that 
you were once a child. Do not fortify a child by tel- 
ling him it is good to bear the yoke in his youth, or 
tease him with moral platitudes. " Fathers, provoke 
not your children to wrath." 

8. Keep your children at home till their characters 
are sufficiently strong, and never place them under 
godless teachers. 

9. Make Sunday a pleasant day. Let it be the 
field-day of the week. You need not secularize it, 
but you can have some extra sweets prepared for it. 
You can make it the day of song, of good reading, 
and of loving fellowship. The family day ought to 
be the sweetest of the seven. Let the large Bible 
with pictures now do its best service for the little 
ones. Let the Catechism have its place, but do not 
try to teach it all in one Sunday. Break the truth 
into crumbs, and be as steady as the growing years 
of childhood. A college boy once spent a June Sab- 
bath in the home of a wealthy Christian layman. It 
was a day to be remembered. In the afternoon there 
was the clever fatherly talk, — better than a sermon, 
— and, with other ministries, the preparing of bou- 
quets to go next morning to the hospital and to the 
homes of the poor in the great city. Family reli- 
gion ought to grow on Sunday like plants enjoying 
an exceptionally fine day of rain and sun. 



FAMILY RELIGION. 



26l 



10. Live for your family. You can do most for the 
world by doing most for your family. You will be 
happy, too, in proportion as you are identified with 
your household. A man's business is his family, and 
his daily toils are but the chores. I would say that 
the original law relating to the husband is that he shall 
be with his family as much as possible at all times, but 
especially at the close of the day's work and on Sun- 
days. Clubs and lounging places interfere with fam- 
ily religion. A man has no right to neglect liis family 
even for the public good. It is said of the philan- 
thropist Wilberforce that once, in attempting to take 
his child from the nurse's arms, it shrank away and 
cried. " Oh, sir ! " said the nurse, " the child is afraid 
of strangers." This struck the father, and he resolved 
that he would no longer be a stranger in his own 
household. I believe that one reason why the sons 
of clergymen and others sometimes go astray is be- 
cause the fathers are too much absorbed in outside 
cares and work. 

11. Labor for and expect the conversion of your 
children while they are young. This is the objective 
point. What is so important as this? To this all the 
laws and methods of family religion converge. 

To every mother God says, " Take this child and 
nurse it for Me." And every father ought to feel that 
as he is responsible for the child's being, he must do 
his utmost to secure its salvation, and to cause its 
life to be honoring to God and useful to humanity. 
It is appalling to see how little sense of responsi- 
bility some parents feel. There are children who 
want to come to Christ, but their fathers and 



262 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



mothers stand in the way. We are told that " among 
the old Romans there prevailed the touching custom 
of holding the face of every new-born infant towards 
the heavens, signifying, by thus presenting its forehead 
to the stars, that it was to look above the world into 
celestial glories. It was a vague superstition; but 
Christianity dispels the false, and gives us a clear re- 
alization of that pagan yearning in the deep solici- 
tude which all its disciples cherish for the spiritual 
welfare of the young." 



THE ARK IN THE HOUSE. 



For one, I care but little for the government which presides 
at Washington in comparison with the government which rules 
the eight or ten millions of American homes. No administra- 
tion can seriously harm us if our home-life is pure, frugal, and 
godly. No statesmanship or legislation can save us, if once our 
homes become the abodes of ignorance or the nestling-places of 
profligacy. The home rules the nation. 

Theodore L. Cuyler. 



XX. 



THE ARK IN THE HOUSE. 



And the ark of the Lord continued in the house of Obed-edom 
the Gittite three months: and the Lord blessed Obed-edom, 
and all his household. — 2 Sam. vi. 1 1. 



HE ark of the covenant was the sacred chest, or 



JL coffer, in which the two tables of stone were 
deposited. Besides these, the ark contained the blos- 
soming rod of Aaron, a pot, or golden vase, of manna, 
and the book of the law, or the precepts that God gave 
to Moses after the Decalogue. The ark was about 
four feet long, and two feet three inches wide and 
high. It was made of acacia wood, a wood which 
is very hard and durable, and was covered within 
and without with plates of gold. At the corners 
were gold rings, through which staves were put for 
carrying it. The lid of the ark was the mercy-seat. 
It was all of gold, having an ornamental rim around 
the edge, and two golden cherubim at the opposite 
ends, fronting each other. Between the cherubim was 
a miraculous shining light, known as the shekinah, 
which betokened the Divine presence ; hence God is 
spoken of as dwelling between the cherubim. The 
ark was made in Moses' time, to receive the tables 
of the law. It was preserved through hundreds of 




266 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



years, and was the most sacred object known to the 
Israelites. During the march through the wilderness 
it was borne by priests under a purple canopy. Be- 
fore it the Jordan was divided, the waters uniting 
again after the people had passed through. Before 
it the walls of Jericho fell down. For a time the ark 
rested at Gilgal; thence it was removed to Shiloh, 
where it remained three hundred years. It was then 
captured by the Philistines, was restored, and kept 
at Kirjath-jearim, whence it was brought by David 
to Jerusalem. On its way to Jerusalem it was suffered 
to remain three months in the house of Obed-edom, 
as we read in the text. David kept the ark in a tent 
which he had prepared for it in Jerusalem, and when 
the temple was built by Solomon it was removed 
thither. What ultimately became of the ark is not 
certainly known ; it probably continued as long as the 
temple stood, — through hundreds of years. It ap- 
pears to have been destroyed at the time of the 
captivity. It was the absence of the ark that made 
the second temple less glorious than the first, though 
the second temple became more glorious afterwards 
by the presence of Christ in it. 

We turn to the text. David is removing the ark 
from Kirjath-jearim to Jerusalem. Thirty thousand 
chosen men are appointed for the service. The 
sacred golden box is brought out of the house of 
Abinadab, who has been its guardian and keeper 
till now, and placed in a new cart drawn by oxen. 
Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, act as drivers; 
Ahio going before. It is a joyous occasion, and all 
manner of instruments are called into use. With 



THE ARK IN THE HOUSE. 



267 



harps and psalteries, timbrels, cornets, and cymbals, 
the exultant company make the firmament ring. They 
come to a certain threshing-floor, when Uzzah puts 
forth his hand and attempts to steady the ark of God, 
for the oxen shook it. This was in defiance of a law 
given to Aaron : " The sons of Kohath shall come to 
bear it: but they shall not touch any holy tiling, lest 
they die? XJzzah is instantly smitten for his error, 
and dies. This puts an end to the rejoicing. David 
is displeased ; he dares not proceed, and dismissing 
the multitude, carries the ark aside into the house 
of Obed-edom the Gittite, — which is supposed to 
have been six miles southwest of Jerusalem. Now 
comes the text: " And the ark of the Lord continued 
in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months : 
and the Lord blessed Obed-edom, and all his house- 
hold." When David found that God blessed Obed- 
edom and all that pertained to him, because of the 
ark of God; that no harm, but, on the contrary, 
a blessing came from keeping the ark, — he went and 
brought it up to the tent which he had made for it 
in Jerusalem. It would seem that Obed-edom must 
have been a good man ; otherwise he would not 
have been willing to receive the ark, or have been 
intrusted with the keeping of it. Nor was the ark 
taken wholly from Obed-edom and his family; for 
when it was removed, he and his sons were allowed 
to accompany it, and were placed in charge of it, with 
others, as door-keepers of the tabernacle at Jerusalem. 
Happy the man on whom such favors of Divine Provi- 
dence fall ! 

Let religion in the house be our theme. Alas, that 



268 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



there should be any house from which religion is ab- 
sent, — in which there is no ark of God, no family 
altar, no voice of prayer ! It would seem, as God 
looks down on the dwellings of men, that His eye 
must rest with special satisfaction on those houses 
where His name is honored and the little circle assem- 
ble day by day for prayer. The " Cotter's Saturday 
Night " is a picture that we all love to contemplate. 
We see the reverent company; we note the serious 
reading of the Word ; we hear their artless lays, — 

" Then, kneeling down to heaven's Eternal King, 
The saint, the father, and the husband prays." 

It is a common saying that there is no spot so 
heavenly, so much like the first paradise, as a 
Christian home. What is necessary to make ours 
a Christian home? It is not wealth. It does not 
appear that Obed-edom lived in a grand or costly 
way. It may have been a very humble dwelling. 
The name Obed-edom means " tenant of Edom." 
He was a Levite, and so could have owned no worldly 
possessions ; and his occupation as porter or door- 
keeper would imply that he lived in a plain way. 
Yet his house became the habitation of the most 
sacred symbol of deity. If wealth made homes 
happy, alas for the poor ! But no home can be so 
meagre or lowly that it may not be made happy 
by the presence of this Divine Guest. God is no 
respecter of persons ; and you shall sometimes find 
His ark abiding where poverty and contentment sit 
as mutual friends. 

To make ours a Christian home it is not necessary 



THE ARK IN THE HOUSE. 269 

to repair the building and remove the furniture; it 
is only necessary that our heart be changed. " To 
this man will I look, even to him that is poor and 
of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word." It is 
with the lowly that God loves to dwell : maintain that 
spirit, and you will have God in your heart and in 
your home. The text says, " The Lord blessed Obed- 
edom and all his household : " it is not said wherein. 
Perhaps the ark was a constant reminder, and sup- 
pressed angry feelings before they arose, and silenced 
hasty words before they were spoken, and so made it a 
home of peace. Or it brought joy by its presence, 
speaking of honor, responsibility, trust. Or it acted 
as a charm to ward off disease from the family. God 
might bless them with health because of their faithful, 
loving care of His holy ark. Or He might give them 
prosperity and success in whatever they attempted 
to do, keeping them from accident, harm, and loss. 
He might have given them contentment, which is a 
continual feast. He might have made the children 
pious and good. There are ways enough. Certain 
it is that God did bless Obed-edom and " all his 
household," and we are told further, " all that per- 
tained unto him." Thus children share in a father's 
recompense. Iniquities are visited to the third and 
fourth generation, but mercy is shown to thousands 
that love God and keep His commandments, and 
thus is suggested the benefit of belonging to a good 
man's house. We should make our own house such 
that others may be blessed who live with us. And 
if we have been brought up in godly families, hav- 
ing had praying fathers and mothers, we have reason 



270 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



to bless God for the hallowed memories, the good 
received, and the blessings that have come to us. No 
one could have lived with Obed-edom who was not 
benefited by his keeping the ark; and no one can 
dwell in a Christian home without feeling its sweet 
influence and reflecting its spirit and life. It is 
blessed to be connected with those whom God blesses. 
Not that a father's faith will save his children, but that 
contact with the good is a good in itself, and the re- 
wards of a good man must be shared by all who are 
linked with him. 

We are to bear in mind that it was the prosperity 
that keeping the ark brought to Obed-edom that led 
David to desire the same blessing. " And it was told 
king David, saying, The Lord hath blessed the house 
of Obed-edom, and all that pertaineth unto him, be- 
cause of the ark of God. So David went and brought 
up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into 
the city of David with gladness." When our homes 
are made beautiful by Christian love it will lead others 
to seek the same possession, that their homes may be 
made beautiful too. 

Now, let us see if we cannot make our homes like 
Obed-edom's. First, we must desire to keep the ark. 
If you had lived in that street where the ark passed 
when it was shaken, and judgment fell on the too hasty 
Uzzah, and a place was sought for the ark, would your 
door have opened to receive the sacred possession? 
Might you not have said, " My home is too humble; " 
or " I am afraid to keep such a sacred treasure ; " or 
" I fear I shall be under too much restraint with the 
symbol of Deity always in my house." Dear friends, 



THE ARK IN THE HOUSE. 



271 



the ark seeks a resting-place now. God wishes to 
make your home just like Obed-edom's, but He waits 
to have you invite Him in. Would that house have 
been blessed .if David had been obliged to force the 
locks to gain an entrance there? Are you sure that 
you really want religion, or God's presence, in your 
house? Is the invitation hearty, "Abide with me"? 
Perhaps you have said to the Saviour, " Come in ! " 
but it was in too cold a way. 

Then, what are you doing to make His stay pleasant^ 
You know the excited interest with which you look 
for a friend's coming. You make ready the guest- 
chamber, you are provident of the table, you arrange 
methods for occupying and diverting him. Do you 
study to please Christ? Is it a royal welcome with 
which you bid Him enter and reign in your heart? 
To say " Come in ! " without care or preparation, is 
like dishonoring a friend with inhospitable entertain- 
ment. To make your hearts the home of the Saviour, 
you must remove all that is spiritually offensive to 
Him. You must brush away the cobwebs of unbelief, 
you must remove the dust of worldliness, you must 
sweep out the fragments of idolatry and the shreds of 
sinful lusts. It is only the pure in heart that shall see 
God. And when once religion has entered our heart 
and home, we must try to keep it there. Let kind 
words be spoken, let love reign there. I cannot think 
that the house of Obed-edom heard loud talking or 
angry words. I cannot think the ark rested where a 
scowl was seen on the face, or scorn or hate was de- 
picted in the eye. A home of sunshine, of gentle 
ministries and sweet voices, must that home have been. 



272 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



Nor can a home be what it ought to be without the 
family altar. Prayer is the selvedge of the day, — 
the self-edge, or woven border ; without it things ravel 
out. God will bless the house where the sweet in- 
cense of daily prayer is offered to Him. There is 
no excuse for the neglect of this duty. Three min- 
utes are sufficient; and if you cannot frame your own 
prayer, you can repeat the Lord's prayer, or use printed 
forms. Think of asking a friend to stop with you, 
and then not speaking to him when he comes ; keep- 
ing him in your house, and not telling him your wants 
or asking from him in his fulness a favor ! It is im- 
possible that a prayerless house should be like Obed- 
edom's, for the imprecation forbids it: " Pour out Thy 
fury upon the heathen that know Thee not, and upon 
the families that call not on Thy name." 

Parental government is another important duty. A 
home is but half a home where there are no children ; 
but children must be governed, to make it a happy 
home. The " household " of Obed-edom is spoken of; 
so he had children. The blessing rested on the chil- 
dren. Can you think that they were disobedient or 
rude? Everything depends on the right training of 
children. The Church and the State begin with the 
family. These little homes are the springs in the 
meadow that the grass hides, or the unnoticed foun- 
tains in the mountains whose united currents make the 
great river. If only our own homes were disturbed by 
lawlessness, it would not be so bad ; but the evil flows 
out into society to increase confusion and misrule. It 
is important to educate our children, but it is more 
important that they be governed. I believe that the 



THE ARK IN THE HOUSE. 



273 



best training of a child is performed before it is two 
years old. Within that time it will learn who is mas- 
ter. Once conquered, it will stay conquered; but if 
you submit, it will be difficult getting the authority 
again into your own hands. 

It is delightful to know of new homes created, and 
of the birth into them of young immortals. The 
home is the type of Eden. But oh, if we should be 
unfaithful to our trust; if we should make our home 
a little pandemonium, and not a little paradise ; if we 
should yield ourselves to fierce passions, and rear 
children to blight our hearts and curse society, — 
how sad and terrible it will be ! Better not to have 
lived than to set up homes out of which shall arise 
children to afflict and dishonor us, and to trouble and 
harm mankind. The antidote to such a misfortune 
consists in keeping the ark in our house. Be truly 
pious, prayerful, watchful, and you may expect that 
your children will do well. They will be a comfort to 
you, and a blessing to the world. 

And let us guard against any temporary efforts or 
experiences. Obed-edom kept the ark three months ; 
and that is as long as some people keep religion. 
Nor then did Obed-edom desire to have the ark re- 
moved, but followed it with his love and services to 
Jerusalem. But there are persons who are ready to 
set the ark out from their dwellings. They tire of 
keeping it, they cannot endure the services and re- 
straints it enjoins. A fickle and spasmodic piety is a 
great evil. If the family altar is reared, it is thrown 
down ; the children are instructed, and then neglected ; 
excellent religious counsel is given, and then the life, 

18 



274 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



which speaks louder than words, contradicts and stul- 
tifies all. Alas for the inconsistencies of too many 
professedly religious parents ! 

Let us, moreover remember that if we cherish the 
ark fondly, we shall follow it to the New Jerusalem. 
Death cannot take from us that which we have kept 
so long. The transfer to a higher realm will include 
our own removal. Like Obed-edom, we shall have 
some service of song or of waiting that shall occupy 
us in the upper temple. How happy the thought 
that a Christian home cannot really be broken up ! 
It is only transfer and removal till all be brought 
where the union is perfect, and partings never come. 
The venerable father, whom we recall now only in 
memory, waits the coming of his children to that 
better home; the gentle mother, whose sweet voice 
we seem now to hear, tarries in the other apartment 
till the door be opened and the whole family be 
gathered into one. Up through Christian homes we 
find our way to that city and temple where the loved 
ones who have left us have gone, and where unions 
are never sundered by the separations of time. 

We are told that " on the shores of the Adriatic a 
beautiful custom prevails among the industrious and 
simple-hearted people. About the going down of the 
sun, the wives of the fishermen repair to the sea, and 
standing upon the wave-washed shore, they sing a mel- 
ody. After singing the first stanza, they stop and lis- 
ten, to catch an answering song from their loved ones 
on the sea. If they hear no melody, they sing another 
stanza, and then listen again. And thus they continue 
to send their melodious notes over the waters, until the 



THE ARK W THE HOUSE. 



answering songs of their husbands fall upon their ears, 
to assure them of their safe return. Fit symbol of 
that more blessed relation of the members of scattered 
households which points to a safe and happy reunion 
above." 

My friends, make your earthly home all that it 
should be. Let art and taste adorn it, — make it beau- 
tiful to the eye ; but most of all make it dear to the 
heart. Let it be the home of prayer, of consistent ex- 
ample, and of holy living. I love to see those illumi- 
nated texts and that beautiful prayer, " God bless our 
home ! " but let us not think if we only hang prayer 
on our walls, that that will suffice. The walls must 
echo to the voice of prayer; the most beautiful thing 
in our dwelling must be a holy, loving heart. Dear 
friends, let us show that religion blesses ; let us excite 
the desire in others to possess what we have found ! 



GIDEON'S THREE HUNDRED. 



Gideon's army must be lessened. Who are so fit to be cash- 
iered as the fearful ? An ill instrument may shame a good work. 
God will not glorify Himself by cowards. Christianity requires 
men. Who can but bless himself to find of two and thirty thou- 
sand Israelites two and twenty thousand cowards ? Yet all these 
in Gideon's march made as fair a flourish of courage as the 
boldest. 

Joseph Hall. 



XXI. 



GIDEON'S THREE HUNDRED. 



And the nwnber of them that lapped, putting their hand to 
their mouth, were three hundred men : but all the ?~est of 
the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. — 
Judges vii. 6. 



HAT was a singular test for sifting an army. At 



first there were thirty-two thousand men. The 
timid were asked to withdraw; that left ten thousand. 
These were brought to the water to be tried there. 
They were thirsty and in haste. All but three hun- 
dred bowed down and took a full drink, putting their 
mouths to the water. The remnant brought the water 
in their hands to their mouths, simply catching it up 
and hastening on. This was to be the conquering 
army. The test was an arbitrary one, or it may have 
served to show positively who possessed the most 
physical vigor, who could endure fatigue and thirst 
with most self-control, and who in body and spirit 
were best prepared for battle. At any rate, they were 
picked men. 

The Book of Judges tells us of the men who judged 
Israel, and something of the history of those times. 
It is easy to remember that Moses led the children 
of Israel out of Egypt, and that he was succeeded by 
Joshua. Moses brought the people to the borders 




28o 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



of Canaan; Joshua led them over the Jordan, and 
established them in the Promised Land. Then began 
a series of judges, continuing to the coronation of the 
first king, Saul. Moses and Joshua were in some 
sense military leaders ; the succeeding judges were 
civil magistrates. The judges ruled some four hun- 
dred years. Gideon was the fifth, and one of the 
most distinguished ; he ruled for forty years, and is 
one of those who are honorably mentioned in the 
eleventh chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews. 

When the Israelites came into Canaan they found 
that country in possession of hostile heathen nations. 
These it was necessary to dispossess. Nor was there 
ever a permanent peace between Israel and the Cana- 
anites. When the children of Israel sinned, God suf- 
fered their enemies to humble and subdue them. We 
find them now sorely beset by the Midianites; for 
seven years they have been given into their hand. 
Whatever the Israelites raised, the Midianites plun- 
dered. In such fear were the Israelites that they hid 
themselves and what little they could save, in the dens 
and caves of the mountains. We are told that Gideon, 
at the time he was called to deliver Israel, was thresh- 
ing wheat by a wine-press, to hide it from the Midian- 
ites. The story of this call is given in the previous 
chapter. An angel appeared, and by miraculous signs 
— by the fire that consumed the offering of flesh and 
cakes, and by the dew wetting first the fleece, leaving 
the ground dry, and then wetting the ground, leaving 
the fleece dry — indicated to Gideon that it was God's 
will that he should become the leader of Israel, and 
go out to battle against this foe. 



GIDEON'S THREE HUNDRED. 



28l 



You see, then, Gideon accepting this command, and, 
as was very natural, rallying all whom he could for the 
great conflict. The host of the Midianites assemble 
on 44 the north side, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley." 
The Israelites, to the number of thirty-two thousand, 
gather on the other side, opposite, in the valley. 
Gideon was perhaps looking with satisfaction on his 
goodly forces, or possibly trembling that he could not 
show a larger array, when the voice comes from the 
Great Commander to cut this number down. So 
many might lead Israel to vaunt themselves, and say 
that their own hand had saved them. The sifting be- 
gins, and twenty-two thousand timid ones retire from 
the field. Ten thousand are left, and it is thought 
these are to have all the labor and the honor of the 
battle. But a second order is issued : " The people are 
yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I 
will try them for thee there." We see the test ; only 
three hundred drink from their hand, while all the rest 
drink from the stream. " And the Lord said unto 
Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I 
save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand." 
To strengthen the faith of Gideon, the dream is told of 
the cake of barley bread that tumbled into the host 
of Midian and smote and overturned a tent, — the 
signification being that in like manner, by the little 
band of Israel, would God destroy their foes. 

And now the arming of these men is not in the 
usual way. It is not with* sword and spear or sling 
that they equip for the battle. Three companies are 
formed, one hundred men in each, and in each man's 
right hand is placed a trumpet, and in his left a pitcher 



282 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



having a lamp within. The Midianites and their allies, 
we are told, " lay along in the valley like grasshoppers 
for multitude; and their camels were without number, 
'as the sand by the sea side for multitude." 

Gideon waits till the middle watch of the night, and 
then in the darkness leads his little band out. His 
order is, "Do as I do," — " when I blow with a trum- 
pet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the 
trumpets also on every side of all the- camp, and say, 
The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon. . . . And 
the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the 
pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and 
the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal : and 
they cried, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon. 
. . . And all the host ran, and cried, and fled ; . . . 
and the Lord set every man's sword against his fel- 
low, even throughout all the host." 

Many thoughts arise in connection with this history. 
We have here lessons of faith. Gideon, as I have 
said, is enrolled among men eminent in this par- 
ticular. It must have required on his part much con- 
fidence in God to cut down the army to the merest 
handful, instead of increasing it. An immense array 
appears against Gideon, and instead of rallying all the 
able-bodied men of the twelve tribes of Israel, he is 
told to dismiss the army that he has as too many; 
and when twenty-two thousand have gone back to 
their homes, he is still told that the remaining ten 
thousand are far too many. Not even one thousand 
are necessary; three hundred are enough. What 
but faith could have led Gideon to believe these state- 
ments, or to dare to go out with such a handful against 



GIDEON'S THREE HUNDRED. 



283 



such a foe? Then, further, the handful were not to 
put on the ordinary weapons of offence or defence. 
They had neither shield nor sword. Pitchers and 
lamps ! What weapons with which to assault the 
host of Midian ! It would seem that Gideon's faith 
must have faltered when he came to weapons, if not 
before. But he had God's promise, and he acted in 
perfect accord with what he was told. It was a novel 
kind of warfare, but if God said it, it was enough. 
Gideon might have said, " Pitchers and lamps ! Of 
what possible use are they, and how can three hundred 
men accomplish anything against a foe so strong? " 
But he raised no question. So we, in our contests, 
movements, and marches, are not to question, but 
simply to trust and obey. 

It appears further that God is not limited in His 
methods. How strange the test by which the three 
hundred valiant ones were discovered, and how singu- 
lar the equipment and style of assault of the little 
army S Man never would have originated such a test, 
or laid out such a plan of battle. The whole was of 
God, who is " wonderful in counsel and excellent in 
working." 

We see also that God can save by few. He can 
make five chase a hundred, and a hundred put ten 
thousand to flight. In Gideon's little army is an 
illustration that God and one are a majority. The 
world may combine against us, but if God is on our 
side, we are mightier than it. We are quite dis- 
posed to count forces, to look at numbers, to be in- 
fluenced by that which may be touched and seen. 
But if God is with and for us, we need not fear; 



284 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



serried ranks or combined elements of woe are pow- 
erless against him whom God defends. 

We learn, moreover, that numbers are not always an 
indication of strength. Gideon's army was stronger 
with three hundred than with thirty thousand. We 
can sometimes strengthen by reducing. The saying 
is quoted, " God is always on the side of the heaviest 
battalions." There is some truth in this ; and yet the 
battalion on whose side God is, is' always heavy. 
Physical strength and numbers are not in themselves 
enough. And even in a natural way a few may be 
better than many. There are weak elements in sub- 
stances and among men that it is better to part with 
than to keep. The clarifying process leaves a purer 
residuum. Every cowardly and faint-hearted soldier 
impairs the strength of an army. So in the Church, 
you may have bulk without strength. It were better 
to admit into membership five persons soundly con- 
verted, than fifty not at all or but half converted. 
The " mixed multitude " were a hindrance to Israel, 
and the dead professors in a Church are its curse and 
bane. Care should be exercised in admitting mem- 
bers. A person truly converted, if not brought into 
the Church will not be lost; while an unconverted 
person admitted to the Church will weaken its force, 
and be less likely himself to become converted. 
Every Church needs weeding, and that Church is best 
off that needs it least. It were well to treat the Lord's 
army as Gideon treated his; and if thirty thousand 
become three hundred, there will still be a gain. It 
is true this is a kind of arithmetic that hardly suits 
the pride of man. There is a charm in numbers. 



GIDEON'S THREE HUNDRED. 285 

David was tempted to number Israel ; and it is a temp- 
tation that still assails cities, churches, and men. It 
is amusing to see how different communities are con- 
stantly taking the census, and vying with one another 
in the count of men. Take in the suburbs, plough in 
more acres, annex cities on opposite banks, even make 
mistakes in counting, only be sure that your city is 
ahead ! It is not to be denied that there are some 
symptoms of this sort in churches. Let us remember 
Gideon's three hundred, and reason that it is not alto- 
gether impossible to advance by reduction ; that there 
is such a thing as lessening, which is not weakening, 
to make strong. 

Yet again, there is brought to view in this narrative 
the union of Divine and human agency. The large 
army must be cut down, lest it be said, " Mine own 
hand hath saved me." And yet there must be an 
army, and methods and agencies that are human. 
The best men are chosen; a singular but effective 
method of warfare is adopted ; a time is fixed ; or- 
ders are given ; and an assault is made. It was God 
who arranged the details and made the whole project 
successful. He appointed the test of lapping the 
water; He ordered the reduction of the army; He 
undoubtedly suggested the night assault and the sin- 
gular use of trumpets, lamps, and pitchers. He also 
caused the attack to result, as Gideon expected, in the 
destruction of the Midianites and the deliverance ot 
Israel. Thus it was human means and Divine strength 
uniting. There is something grand in the war-cry 
with which they entered into the battle, — " The sword 
of the Lord, and of Gideon ! " That was the startling 



286 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



shout that fell on the ears of the Midianites as in 
the darkness of the night they heard the crashing of 
pitchers and saw the flashing of lights. It was not 
the voice of one man, but all, as they blew their trum- 
pets, sounded this cry. That must be the Church's 
cry and ours in all the conflicts of this world. It 
is not the sword of man, nor the sword of the Lord 
alone, but of both combined. We must march on the 
redoubts of Satan saying, " The sword of the Lord, 
and of Gideon ; " we must attack vice and error, evil 
habits and practices, and hoary superstitions, crying, 
"The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon; " we must 
go forth with our missionary operations, and assault 
the walls of ancient heathendom and the temples of 
idol gods, saying, " The sword of the Lord, and of 
Gideon." The Church fails when it depends on its 
own arm to bring the nations to Christ. Nor in hum- 
bler attempts to save those around us can we do 
anything, only as we keep in mind the correlated ne- 
cessary union of the human and the Divine. A sword 
in our hand, without God's aid, is powerless ; a broken 
pitcher, with His blessing, will do great service. 

We see, again, it is easy for God to destroy His 
enemies; it is only necessary to let them destroy 
themselves. The three hundred used no swords ; 
they simply made a panic, and the affrighted enemy, 
mistaking one another, destroyed their own men. It 
was a terrible slaughter, and the results were all 
brought about by simply inflicting upon the Mid- 
ianites a false alarm. " The wicked flee when no 
man pursueth," and all that may be necessary to bring 
them into destruction may be to turn their conscience 



GIDEON'S THREE HUNDRED. 



287 



on itself, or to let them hear some false alarm. The 
forces of evil are so powerful, and the Church is so 
weak, that it seems to some too much to expect that 
that prayer will ever be answered, " Thy kingdom 
come." We are a feeble folk, and all our weapons 
seem to have no adequate relation to the strength 
to be overcome. But our enemies themselves shall 
yet help us ; and implements that resist us shall be 
used on the foe. We are only responsible for the use 
of means ; the results that shall grow out of these are 
with God. Nothing is too hard for God, and Satan's 
empire may collapse before prayer and a handful of 
missionaries as readily as the countless host of Midian 
before Gideon's three hundred. Canaan was promised 
to Israel no more certainly than all the earth is prom- 
ised to our Christ. It is only a question of time; and 
if the sifting has not yet come, or the lamps and pitch- 
ers are not yet ready, the future is bringing on the day 
when every foe will be vanquished, and Christ's king- 
dom established in all the earth. We may take that 
scene in the valley of Moreh as typical of what is yet 
to be. The gospel trumpet is now sounding; minis- 
ters are the earthen vessels through which the light 
of truth is flashing, error is growing weaker from self- 
inflicted wounds, and the reign of peace and rest is 
drawing near. 

The practical question with us now is, Where do we 
stand in this conflict of forces, — with the Midianites, 
or with Gideon ? And if with Gideon, — with his great 
army, or his little band? The rejected ones are the 
men who love ease and are faint-hearted. Are we 
such? The three hundred are the earnest, resolute, 



288 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



valiant ones. Are we such? If there were a sifting in 
the Church now, where should we be found, — with the 
chosen few, or the rejected many? We read of another 
three hundred who defended the pass of Thermopylae. 
They left their dead bodies in the defile, and their 
courage and patriotism have gone into history, adding 
the highest lustre to the Lacedaemonian name. Are 
we such soldiers for Christ? Is there anything in our 
piety, principles, or valor that might lead our conquer- 
ing Prince to gather us around Him as His " picked 
men"? It is well if we belong at all to the army of 
the Lord ; but it is better to be of that little band on 
whom He bestows His most important trusts, and on 
whom He relies for His most effective battling. On 
the few His eye rests with tenderest interest; on the 
few He hangs the issues of His cause; on the few He 
puts the highest badge of honor. To be of this few, 
self must be subordinated, ease must be put aside, and 
fatigue, conflict, and danger cheerfully borne. Do we 
not want some share in the grand victories which our 
Christ is to achieve? Can we be content with seeing 
others marching to the contest, and we rejected, or 
lurking in the rear? Can we be soldiers and do no 
fighting? Is it enough to appear once a week on 
dress parade? Let us be of the three hundred whose 
devotion is extraordinary and whose deeds are great, 
rather than of the thirty thousand whose lives are 
valueless, who simply count, — swelling the bulk, but 
weakening the power of the Church. You are de- 
ceived if you think there is no fighting to be done, 
and that the Midianites are not near. In many ways 
the enemies of religion are now attacking the faith of 



GIDEON'S THREE HUNDRED. 



289 



believers and are seeking to cripple the power of the 
Church. I have no fears for the result, but I believe 
that we are living in very critical times. Scepticism 
is rampant, worldliness prevails, some friends who 
stood high have fallen off", and we know not what we 
may witness next. It seems as if the Lord were lead- 
ing His people down to the brook, and testing their 
devotion, earnestness, and zeal. Many get down 
upon their knees and drink; but few lap and run. 
Let us be in haste, hardy, full of courage, mightily 
in earnest, eager for the fight. Jesus leads us ; let us 
be valiant. The strife may last long ; but ultimately 
our Prince will conquer, and we shall share in the 
honors of His reign. 



19 



LIFE'S CHANGES. 



Father, I know that all my life 

Is portioned out for me, 
And the changes that are sure to come 

I do not fear to see ; 
But I ask Thee for a present mind, 

Intent on pleasing Thee. 

There are briers besetting every path 

That call for patient care ; 
There is a cross in every lot, 

And an earnest need for prayer : 
But a lowly heart that leans on Thee 

Is happy anywhere. 

Miss A. L. Waring. 



XXII. 



LIFE'S CHANGES. 



These are the journeys of the children of Israel, — Numbers 



HERE are special moving times in city and 



X country. Life itself is full of change. But 
few remain long in one place. As we observe the 
moving loads of household goods, a voice seems to 
say to us, " These are the journeys of the children 
of Israel." 

In the chapter from which the text is taken, if we 
leave out the places, the verses follow one another 
thus : " And they departed ; " " And they removed ; " 
" And they departed ; " " And they removed ; " " And 
they departed ; " " And they removed ; " " And they 
removed ; " " And they removed ; " " And they took 
their journey;" " And they departed;" "And they 
removed," — and so on and on through the forty 
years of their sojourn in the wilderness. It appears 
that they made forty-two journeys in that time, which 
makes an average of less than a year to a place. 
With a map we could find these places, trace the 
route which God's people took, and see how round- 
about it was. They had only about two hundred 
miles to go, and yet it took them forty years, and 



XXXlll. I. 




294 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



all the removals and changes of forty years, to get to 
the Land of Promise ! In this, as in other particulars, 
they were a type of the human family. Like them, 
we are the subject of removal and change; our life 
history is a succession of marches. 

As we look at this catalogue of places we see that 
soma of them were places rendered specially memor- 
able. Rameses was the Israelites' Egyptian home, — 
land of their birth, yet land of bondage. Marah was 
the bitter well whose waters were sweetened in a mi- 
raculous manner. Elim is spoken of as a place of 
special refreshment. " There were twelve wells of 
water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they 
encamped there by the waters." Soon we find them 
in the wilderness of Sin : here they hunger, and the 
quails are sent; manna also begins to fall. At Rephi- 
dim they thirst again, and God gives them water out 
of the rock. Here, too, was the famous battle with 
the Amalekites when Moses prayed, his hands being 
stayed up by Aaron and Hur while Joshua fought. At 
Sinai the law was given on tables of stone amid mighty 
signs and wonders. Here also the people fell into 
idolatry, worshipping the golden calf and suffering for 
their sin. Kibroth-hattaavah was the encampment 
where the people complained that they were tired of 
manna, and quails were sent in such abundance as to 
bring a deadly plague; so they named the place 
" Graves of lust." 

We cannot follow the Israelites from place to place, 
or mention the particulars of their history. It was 
one protracted scene of change and removal, of bless- 
ing and judgment, of hostility and strife, of danger 



LIFE'S CHANGES. 



295 



and deliverance. Much the same is it with us in our 
march through this world. We start out with very- 
vague notions, and we find our way very different from 
what we anticipated. We call the fancies of childhood 
and youth dreams, for they are seldom, if ever, real- 
ized. And as we get on in life we look back and say, 
" That was my Red Sea ; that was my bitter well ; 
those were my Elim fountains and palm-tree shadows. 
There I fought with the Amalekites ; there I set up 
my golden idols ; there I complained of the manna 
and was punished." 

Occasionally we meet with persons, advanced in life, 
who have never occupied any other than their present 
home. But even in that case, others have gone out 
from that home, and many changes have come. Com- 
monly, Egypt and Canaan lie widely apart, with a 
winding-way between. We congratulate a young cou- 
ple starting out in life, and we try to forget the possi- 
bilities of a changing future; but as their life-history 
unfolds, we see that time and chance happen to them 
as to others. Little ones come to them, but again and 
again in their weary march they stop to dig a grave. 
Anxieties furrow the brow, burdens bend the form, 
and, finally, the home with its occupants is gone. The 
birds do not commonly rear their broods in the same 
nest, but every spring season witnesses the building of 
new homes. We are glad when the birds come back 
to us ; we welcome their songs, and we notice that the 
great business of their lives seems to be the rearing 
of a young brood. They make their work lighter by 
song, and the joy of their work shows itself in their 
melodies. The nest-building goes on, and soon little 



296 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



eggs are there. We wait a while, and new lives are 
there; we wait longer, and the nest is deserted, the 
young birds have flown. Is it not somewhat thus with 
the homes represented here? Is it not fragments of 
households that appear in every congregation? Re- 
call some of those scenes of childhood. Happy are 
you if changes have not been many with you ! Some 
of you are well on in the march, and the childhood 
home seems distant. You were born,- perhaps, in the 
country, and as your thoughts go back you recall the 
farm-dwelling, the towering trees, the running brook, 
" the old oaken bucket that hung in the well," the 
rustic school-house and the boys and girls, — loved 
companions of those early days. Or you lived in the 
city, and the scenes of the city come back to you ; 
you see the streets as they were, the buildings, people, 
and customs of those times ; and the change is no 
less great. If some of us should attempt to write out 
our life-history » what a sweep it would take ! " I 
was born in such a place ; there I passed my school- 
days ; there I began my married life ; in that house 
our child was born ; in that house death brought its 
first sorrows ; in that house loss and bankruptcy over- 
took us ; from that home father and mother left us." 
And so, as we look back and pass on in the survey, 
places and scenes come up to us thick as monuments 
in a cemetery inscribed " Sacred to the memory." 

It is not that I wish to make you sad that I revive 
these memories. I simply repeat a fact, that by a 
timely reference to it we may be profitably impressed. 

What shall we say, then, of these "journeys of the 
children of Israel " ? 



LIFE'S CHANGES. 



297 



I. Evidently, God's way is the right way. The 
Psalmist sings, " He led them forth by the right way } 
that they might go to a city of habitation." It was 
the right way, and yet so crooked, toilsome, and dan- 
gerous ! It seemed the wrong way, for it led into the 
sea and through hostile tribes, and was a way of want 
and weariness ; it led through the wilderness, and was 
a way in which hunger and thirst were experienced, 
demanding the interposition of miracles ; it was a way 
over which the people walked, finding fault and com- 
plaining at every step, — and yet it was the right way. 
No guide ever took the tourist over a better or surer 
path. The pillar of cloud and of fire betokened that 
Omniscience was guiding, and that the way was right; 
if difficult and strange, it was still the safest and best 
to follow. So we may be sure that whatever changes 
come to us, God's way is best. " Our times are in 
His hand," and it is a matter of rejoicing that it is 
so. " There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, 
but the end thereof are the ways of death." If God 
left us to ourselves, we should soon stray and fall 
into trouble. What we have to do, then, is to follow 
where God leads, stop our complaints and murmur- 
ing, and halt or march as the pillar in the advance 
settles or lifts itself forward. Your way has been a 
changing and roundabout one, but it is thus God is 
bringing you home. Severe trials have come to you, 
great dangers have threatened you, your courage has 
often failed, and bitter tears have fallen ; yet God 
knew where He was leading you just as truly as when 
He brought His people into the land of the Amorites, 
or suffered them to turn back with terror before the 



298 BELIEVING AND DOING. 

Anakim. Undoubtedly we are free, yet somehow 
there is a Hand leading us ; and what is specially 
gratifying is that the Hand is a wise and good one. 

"He leadeth me ! Oh, blessed thought ! 
Oh, words with heavenly comfort fraught ! — 
What e'er I do, where'er I be, 
Still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me." 

The knowledge that it is God's hand that " leadeth" us 
will tend to smooth the roughness of the way, dispel- 
ling fear, inspiring courage, producing peace. The 
path of duty is ever the path of true happiness; so 
that it is enough to know that this is what the Master 
appoints. It is hard to make changes, to break away 
from tender associations, to leave work or friends or 
places that are dear ; and yet it is a great relief to feel 
that God goes with us and that it is all right. It 
would be a pain to stay when God and duty call us 
hence. Thus if our way be intricate and difficult, it 
may still be joyous by the consciousness that God is 
with us in it all. 

2. Again, changes impress us with the fleeting char- 
acter of earthly things. What stands? Human monu- 
ments crumble, and on everything sublunary is written, 
" Passing away ! " " Here we have no continuing 
city ! ,s We come back to the place where we once 
lived, we seek the house where friends used to greet 
us, and we are told the family has moved away; we 
call at the old familiar store, and it is a new sign and 
unknown names that meet the eye ; we go upon the 
street, and we never saw those faces before. The 
business circles, the passing multitudes, the Sabbath 



LIFE'S CHANGES. 



299 



congregations, are constantly changing. And so there 
is kept before the eye this truth, that we are strangers 
and pilgrims on earth. The children of Israel could 
not stop to build cities, or, if they did, they had soon 
to abandon them, for they were on a march. We are 
not to settle down here, build habitations, and feel that 
this is our home; but go, as if light-armed, pitch our 
tent, then strike it, and march along. Do you not 
see, in that you cannot remain in one state or place 
long, that you must expect change? And will you 
not accept the fact, and adapt yourself to the con- 
ditions of this changing world ? Will you grieve be- 
cause changes come? Will you not rather be thankful 
that they are not more frequent? And will you not 
sit loosely to things in which you cannot trust, and 
anchor your hopes in a world where changes do not 
come? It is one of the good things of change that it 
awakens jealousy and distrust of earth. Seeing our 
" fondest hopes decay," the tree or flower fading, the 
petted creature dying, we look for a place where 
blight does not come, or death chill the heart and 
close the eye. There is no doubt that changes are 
an antidote to worldliness. If we could stay and keep 
and change not, then we might be satisfied with earth, 
and desire no better home. Israel journeyed in pur- 
suit of the promised rest, and these changes remind 
us that we are doing the same ; and as God stirred up 
the nest of Israel, so He aims to allure us forth into 
our native skies. The piercing of the thorns must 
make us long the more to fly. 

Changes also make heaven more attractive. If we 
could keep our friends on this side of the river, we 



300 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



might not care for a better home ; if we had no sor- 
rows, we might think less of that world where tears do 
not fall. The very contrast of change, weariness, and 
death lifts into attractive grandeur the city within 
whose walls the light of God is shining, where tears 
are wiped away, and to whose ransomed inhabitants 
immortal life is given. " For we that are in this taber- 
nacle do groan, being burdened : not for that we would 
be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might 
be swallowed up of life." And so we sing: — 

" Beyond the smiling and the weeping 

I shall be soon ; 
Beyond the waking and the sleeping, 
Beyond the sowing and the reaping, 

I shall be soon." 

3. Another suggestion that comes to us from these 
changing scenes is, " What thou doest, do quickly." 
Time flies ; opportunities are soon gone. In the field 
of home, parent, do your best. Your children are 
not to be with you always. You may not note the 
change, and this may make you less diligent; but the 
little ones will soon be out of your arms and out of 
your home. You must impress them now; you must 
set the seal while the wax is hot. Every day brings 
changes and lessens your time. Family government 
is best secured in the first years of childhood ; it be- 
comes more difficult as the child grows. And this is 
something which parents themselves should bear in 
mind. Too many forget that precept, " Train up a 
child in the way he should go : and when he is old, he 
will not depart from it." 



LIFE'S CHANGES. 



301 



Parents may flatter themselves that somehow a neg- 
lected child will turn out well ; but there is little to 
encourage such a hope. It is the child that is to be 
trained ; and when the training is neglected, remedial 
efforts are employed too late. The time in which to 
save men is to save them when they are boys. Not 
only parents, but teachers in the day-schools and the 
Sabbath-schools should be impressed with their re- 
sponsibility. It is the plastic clay that is committed 
to their hands, and they should mould it now into some- 
thing useful and good. So of ministers of the gospel; 
they have no time to lose. The charge to them is 
suitable, " What thou doest, do quickly." Ministers 
ought to preach like dying men to dying men. There 
is no time to discuss side questions, or to entertain 
with philosophies and fine sentiments. What would 
you think of trying to divert a sick man with a chap- 
ter from Dickens or a passage from Shakspeare, instead 
of hastening for the doctor? Nor would you, if the 
sick man did not know of his danger, on that account 
slacken your speed. So of all opportunities of useful- 
ness, — opportunities to speak and do; to encourage, 
relieve, and bless ; to minister to the body or to bring 
a soul to Christ, — you must speak and do now. So 
of hearing the gospel. None knows when he will 
appear in the house of God for the last time. 

4. In our march through the wilderness, whatever 
our changes, we must not leave our religion behind us. 
Every house should have its family altar, and if we 
move, it should go with us. You may not distinguish 
it among the material articles or household goods that 
are piled upon the dray, but it should be somewhere 



302 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



among those affections and objects that constitute 
your home. Not that a mere form is of value. If 
there is a prayer in the morning, and there are cross 
words through the day, it is hardly a happy home. 
But prayer to begin and end the day with is a good 
selvedge, and a good preventive against anger and bit- 
terness. Let those who are arranging or re-furnishing 
their houses, or beginning their married life, not think 
their homes complete if they have not an altar of 
prayer in them. And as we pass from dwelling to 
dwelling, or place to place, let us ever crave that God's 
presence may go with us. We read of the patriarchs 
as they journeyed from place to place, — of Noah, 
Abraham, Jacob, and others, — " There he built an 
altar, and called on the name of the Lord." We know 
how much the Israelites thought of the ark which they 
carried with them through all their journeying to the 
Promised Land. The ark symbolized God's presence 
with them; above it were the cherubim, the mercy- 
seat, and the ever-shining Shekinah. Moses prayed, 
" If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up 
hence." We may have no visible ark, but we may 
have just as truly God for our companion, protector, 
and guide. Oh, happy home where the Divine pres- 
ence is recognized; where Jesus, the Elder Brother, is 
counted in ! 

We live in a changing world ; but we must not lose 
sight of the fact that we are on our journey home. 
Every march in the wilderness brought the Israelites 
nearer to the Promised Land. If the distance some- 
times widened, it was the way marked out in the plan 
of God. So — 



LIFE'S CHANGES. 



303 



" Nightly we pitch our moving tent 
A day's march nearer home." 

Soon the departures and the removals will cease, 
and we, if we overcome, shall reach that temple and 
city from which we shall go no more out forever. As 
nature has its changes, and no winter was ever so 
drear that spring did not return ; as after the frosts 
and the death-silence the buds swell and open, and 
the birds come back to cheer us with their songs, — so 
we, after our bitterest griefs and most stunning losses, 
must rise to a life of gladness, and shed on hearts 
around us a radiance of joy. My friends, do not be 
made sad by life's changes ; gird yourselves, rather, 
for new exertions, and take heart for the remainder 
of the way. Do not wear a sorrowful countenance, 
and chill others with your grief. Look sunny; speak 
cheerily ; let love beam in your eye. Hail the day 
when, the changes ended, the pilgrimage completed, 
the river crossed, we shall come to the Father's house 
and the eternal home ! 



ALL THINGS FOR GOOD. 



20 



It is with wealth as with a water reservoir: when the drought 
has dried it up, you find in the deserted bed things that were 
lost years ago, and curious, interesting things which, but for this 
circumstance, would never have been known. So, where it is a 
believing, contented mind, it will discover in the deserted chan- 
nel, when the flood of fortune has drained away, unsuspected 
sources of enjoyment and lost things, feelings which long since 
vanished, simple pleasures and primitive emotions which abund- 
ance had overflowed. 

James Hamilton. 



XXIII. 



ALL THINGS FOR GOOD. 

And we know that all things work together for good to them that 
love God. — Rom. viii. 28. 

r \ ^HIS text is like a bench in a park, — it is meant 
-*■ for the weary. All God's promises furnish sup- 
port. Blessed promises, how they comfort and refresh 
us on our pilgrim way ! The Bible is more a book of 
promises than of precepts. Think of a house where 
commands should outnumber gentle words! The pre- 
cepts are few; the promises are many. Those little 
books that alternate a precept and a promise hardly 
furnish a fair proportion. For one command they 
should give a score of promises. God is a "faithful 
promiser;" and it is promise, promise, promise, all 
the way along. The earthly Canaan was the land of 
promise, and heaven is to us our " promised land." It 
is the promises of a faithful God on which we rely, 
i and these cheer us as we pass along. The Bible is 
not a law-book, but a cheque-book, with God's name 
signed to the blanks. It is not a mere code of " Do 
this and this," or " Do that and that," but a store- 
house of gracious " I wills." It is for us to complete 
the writing, and get what we will. 



3 o8 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



So, then, in our life-march we come to-day to this 
blessed text ; we rest down on it : " We know that all 
things work together for good to them that love God." 
" We know!' Paul was sure of it; he was inspired, 
and he had experience. And observe, it is in the 
present tense; it is not a note of hand drawn for 
ninety days, good when the time is up, but it is on 
demand, good now. "All things work together" — 
work now, do work, — not " shall work." This text 
is often misquoted thus : " All things shall work." 
But this is not correct. The comfort is not post- 
poned ; it is not an assurance that somehow things 
will come out right by and by, but a declaration that 
God is ordering the present for our good. We are 
told that " A young candidate for licensure once de- 
livered his trial-piece before a body of ministers. He 
seemed to make a good impression, and he thought 
he had done well. At the close, an opportunity was 
given for criticism. A veteran pioneer arose and ex- 
pressed his approbation of the doctrine and style of the 
discourse. ' But,' said he, ' I have a serious objection 
to make to the use of one scripture. Did the young 
brother say, " All things shall work together for good 
to them that love God "? ' ' Yes, sir.' ' That is wrong, 
though a very common mistake. You will find the 
passage reads, " All things work together for good." < 
Shall is not there.' The young man endeavored to 
explain that it was a mere verbal slip, a redundancy 
that did not affect the meaning ; but the father in the 
ministry insisted, as then seemed too pertinaciously, 
that the ' shall ' should not be there. ' But,' writes 
the young man, ' every year since shows me more 



ALL THLNGS FOR GOOD. 



and more clearly the force of that seemingly trivial 
criticism.' " 

It requires faith to believe God's promises. A 
promise seems to imply a lack of faith ; hence the 
reason for giving promises and repeating them so 
often. We are like children in the dark, and we must 
hear the father's or mother's voice every now and then. 
But some things seem so impossible that it staggers 
us to believe what God says. God gave a promise to 
Abraham, and then told him to slay his son. Abra- 
ham might have hesitated, saying, " Then where shall 
the seed arise that is to be numerous as the stars?" 
Moses was bidden to lead the children of Israel out 
of Egypt, but was brought where walls of rock shut 
him in, with the enemy behind and the sea before. It 
seems strange that a difficult, round-about way should 
be the right way ; yet it was so in the case of Israel. 
The Psalmist writes : " He led them forth by the 
right way." We have God's word that He will bring 
us home ; and He will. We have only to obey and 
trust, — follow the precepts, and believe the promises. 

And can anything be more comforting and support- 
ing than these words, " All things wonc together for 
good to them that love God " ? 

i. " 'All tilings work!' God's workshop has an end' 
less variety of tools. Sky and water, wind and fire, 
become His servitors. Not only things, matter, but 
events, history, philosophy, — all the powers of the 
world, even afflictions and the spirits of darkness, — are 
so used by Him as to work His people's good. He is 
like a man with a turning-lathe, having in his shop 
all sorts of instruments; there are chisels, — angular, 



3io 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



square, and scalloped; some large, and some small; 
some for special, and some for common purposes, — 
and with these, variously used, he brings the wood, 
ivory, or iron into a beautiful, symmetrical shape. 
Now he takes up one instrument, and now another: 
all are needed, all have their use. It is not till we 
have been completely turned and moulded, and every- 
thing has been used on us, that we are fitted for a 
better sphere. So we expect an alternation of treat- 
ment ; the " all things " must be used and gone through 
with, and then we shall come out a perfected form. 
At one time we need a larger cutting, and then that 
which gives polish and smoothness; now the great 
chisel that cuts and gouges, and now the delicate 
graver that smooths and pares. And thus our life- 
history is wrought out, and character and principle 
are formed. 

What a joy to think that these implements are in 
the hands of One who has a plan, and is infinitely 
good and wise in working! Now it seems as if the 
sharp instrument were going through the revolving 
shaft, but it stops in time; there the form bulges, and 
there it is small ; but it is strength and beauty that are 
secured by all. The great Workman has an ideal de- 
sign, and the Hand is unfolding what is seen by the 
inner Eye. The wrong tool, an incorrect judgment, a 
defective hand, would spoil all. But the Being who 
made the " all things " knows how to use them, and 
will use them for our good. We may not read the 
design or enjoy the shaping, but it is all right. 

It is an honor to be one to whom such skill and 
force are given, the soul to whose forming all things 



ALL THINGS FOR GOOD. 3 1 1 

are subordinated, and that can feel that as a creature 
it is loved and placed above all. We sometimes take 
pride in saying, " This was wrought in such a loom, 
or is the product of such a factory; " but the soul 
that is introduced into heaven all perfect and glorious 
will call forth the admiration of angels and be the joy 
of Him by whose Divine power and fitting, in this lab- 
oratory of human history, it was prepared for that 
holy state. 

2. Notice, next, that a beautiful harmony pervades 
all God's works. " All things work together" — thus 
teaching man a lesson of sympathy, co-operation, 
unity. How marvellous that things so unlike, distant, 
and diverse should come together, and, like the mem- 
bers of a choir or the performers in an orchestra, 
unite in producing a perfect harmony ! " All things 
work together? Divine providence is not an uncer- 
tain, irregular, disjointed thing; the universe is not 
like a heap of broken bolts, scraps, and bars that 
are thrown together in a workshop ; on the contrary, 
there is fitness, method, plan, coalescing, uniting, per- 
vading all. God could put a number upon each arti- 
cle, indicating its place in the infinite purpose, just as 
stones are sometimes numbered and brought together 
in the construction of a great building. This unity of 
labor has its illustrations in the works of men. You 
are shown into a woollen-mill, where beautiful shawls 
are fabricated. The different steps are indicated, from 
the dyeing of the wool up through the adjustment and 
variations of machinery, the mingling of colors and 
weaving of threads, the clatter and play of looms, the 
assorting and trimming and folding, till the article, 



312 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



finished and beautiful, lies ready to be sent forth for 
the purchaser to wear. It is a noisy, confused, unin- 
telligible work and process ; but there is order, unity, 
purpose, running through all. Again, you enter a 
watch-factory. Here the lower floor is given to mak- 
ing the tools with which to work; thus starting at 
the beginning. Here, too, is the engine that drives all 
the works; and then, as you ascend, you pass from 
grosser to lighter works, — the cutting of plates to the 
threading of tiny screws, the nice adjustment of part 
to part, the careful painting of the dial, the putting 
in the case, the final application of the key, and the 
running of the finished watch. How delightful to 
think that in this way all God's creation, all its parts, 
are working together for our good ! We can hardly 
credit it; but He says it, and we must believe what 
He says. Man is the highest object of His love; even 
the angels are not so dear to Him as man : the angels 
are our servitors, and come among the " all things." 
It is for man that the great workshop of the universe 
was built; man is the last and most important object 
in the work of creation; it is for man that the system 
of redemption has been devised ; and it is in connec- 
tion with man that God, through His mighty gospel, 
has caused His wisdom, power, and love, in their most 
stupendous forms, to be seen. 

3. In the accomplishment of His purposes God's 
ways are sometimes very dark; and yet here is the 
assurance that "all things work together for good to 
them that love God." We do not know how it is, but 
it is so. We are poor judges; God's ways are best; 
and often our sorest trials bring us the greatest joy. 



ALL THINGS FOR GOOD. 



3*3 



Trials strengthen faith, refine the spirit, wean from 
earth, increase usefulness, fit for heaven. " Blessed 
is the man that endureth temptation : for when he 
is tried, he shall receive the crown of life." " My 
brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers 
temptations ; knowing this, that the trying of your 
faith worketh patience." " And not only so, but we 
glory in tribulations also : knowing that tribulation 
worketh patience ; and patience, experience ; and ex- 
perience, hope." It sometimes requires very hard 
methods and very severe strokes to bring a man into 
the right attitude and frame. I recall a visit to a large 
scythe-factory. There were the iron furnaces, the 
ponderous trip-hammers, the tempering-room, and the 
emery-wheels. I saw the whole process of making 
scythes. There stood the black, unsightly bar of 
steel : now it was put into the furnace till it glowed 
with heat; then it passed under the huge hammer, 
crushing and flattening it along its entire length, and 
forming it into the appearance of a blade ; then it was 
taken to the tempering-room and put into a furnace 
hotter than before. The tempering-room was entirely 
dark ; every ray of light was excluded. Window, 
crack, or crevice there was none ; the only thing visi- 
ble was the glowing furnace. In this the blade was 
held till it reached a clear white heat, which could be 
determined only by the darkness around ; it was then 
plunged into water and suddenly cooled, and thus tem- 
pered and hardened for its subsequent use. From the 
tempering-room it was taken to another room, where 
strong men sat above revolving wheels. The now 
hardened blade was held upon the flying stone : the 



314 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



noise was harsh, and the sparks flew ; but a polished 
face and a keen edge were given to that which had 
been black and dull before. And so at last the blade 
took form and lustre, and was fitted for its grander use. 
Thus the scythe was made ; and then on a June morn- 
ing you might have gone where the tall grass was 
waving, and seen the glittering blade sweeping along 
its course, keeping time to the husbandman's song, 
and doing its part earnestly towards the ultimate in- 
gathering. It was better to be the useful scythe than 
the steel bar. As I stood in that tempering-room the 
thought came to me, — It is thus that God deals with 
men. Dark room and white heat are necessary in 
life's discipline. Hammer and fire are not pleasant 
processes ; but it is thus that we are brought to our 
highest state. God says it, and it must be true : " All 
things work together for good to them that love God." 
The poor steel cries " No ! " when hammer falls and 
fire glows ; but the keen, rejoicing, useful blade says, 
" The way of suffering is the way of joy." 

"Ah ! if we knew it all, we should surely understand 
That the balance of sorrow and joy is held with an even Hand ; 
That the scale of success or loss shall never overflow, 
And that compensation is twined with the lot of high and low. 

" The easy path in the lowland hath little of grand or new ; 
But a toilsome ascent leads on to a wide and glorious view. 
Peopled and warm is the valley, lonely and chill the height ; 
But the peak that is nearer the storm-cloud is nearer the stars 
of light." 

4. Finally, we must bear in mind to whom this 
promise is addressed, — " to them that love God" 



ALL THINGS FOR GOOD. 



315 



There is no promise of good to others. You must 
love God, you must be His child, you must seek to 
please Him, if you expect that He will direct and 
control all the forces of His creation and all the 
operations of His providence for your good. The 
phrase, "to love God," is comprehensive. It suggests 
the obligations and relations of the creature to the 
Creator. " Love is the fulfilling of the law." You 
best describe the believer, disciple, and friend of God 
by saying that he loves God. Love is generic ; love 
implies and includes right feelings and an outwardly 
correct life. Jesus said, " If a man love Me, he will 
keep My words." Love is stronger than friendship; 
love implies intimacy, sympathy, oneness. The large- 
ness of this promise, then, depends on the relation in 
which you stand to God. It is no promise, it is a 
denial, if you do not love God. The forces of nature 
are not working for you, if you are not working for 
God. Either God is for you, and all things are yours, 
or God is against you, and nothing is yours. Let me 
read again : " All things work together for good to 
them that love God." God knows whether you love 
Him, and you ought to know whether you love Him. 
If you love Him, you try to please Him; you think of 
Him, live for Him, pray to Him. You are not ashamed 
of Him, you come into His family, you call yourself 
His child, you love His Church, His Bible, His ordi- 
nances. Think of a boy loving his father, and yet 
treating indifferently the letter that that father writes, 
and not doing what he wishes or enjoins ! You love 
the service of God, and you do all that you have talent 
and opportunity to do. More, you take sweetly and 



3i6 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



pleasantly all that your Father sends ; you do not look 
severe and rebel when He afflicts. When He says, 
" for good," He means real good, not seeming good. 
Oftentimes we pray, and it is better that God should 
deny our prayers; or we count something good, and 
He takes it away. When we cannot see the meaning, 
we must have faith to believe that it is all right and 
well ; and if you love God, you will not question His 
wisdom or love. You will drink the. bitter cup ; you 
will submit to the hard fare, saying, " My Father 
appoints it, and it is well." 

Now, my friend, How is it with you? Are you one 
who can appropriate to himself this gracious promise? 
Do you love God ; and is God in all things seek- 
ing your good? Happy are you if you can an- 
swer, "Yes." But if you answer, "No," let me urge 
you to put aside your indifference or wicked hostility 
and to come into friendly relations with God now. 
Take this promise ; make it yours ; fill out the blank 
by inserting your own name. You ought to love God, 
and you need Him for a friend. Love Him, and He 
will centre on you the fulness of His grace ; He will 
make all things work together for your good. Do 
not turn away from Him, then; do not choose the 
world as your portion ; do not rest your love and 
confidence and hope here. " Know ye not that the 
friendship of the world is enmity with God? whoso- 
ever therefore will be a friend of the world is the 
enemy of God." You are for God or against Him; 
you cannot occupy neutral ground. Come, then, take 
your stand with the friends of God ; come where His 
love shall shine upon you ; come where the blessed- 



ALL THINGS FOR GOOD. 



317 



ness of that glorious text shall take possession of your 
heart and be yours to appropriate : " We know that 
all things work together for good to them that love 
God." 

u Sometime, when all life's lessons have been learned, 

And sun and stars forevermore have set, 
The things which our weak judgments here have spurned, 

The things o'er which we grieved with lashes wet, 
Will flash before us, out of life's dark night, 

As stars shine most in deeper tints of blue, 
And we shall see how all God's plans are right, 

And how what seemed reproof was love most true. 

" And we shall see how, while we frown and sigh, 

God's plans go on as best for you and me ; 
How, when we called, He heeded not our cry 

Because His wisdom to the end could see. 
And even as wise parents disallow 

Too much of sweet to craving babyhood, 
So God, perhaps, is keeping from us now 

Life's sweetest things, because it seemeth good." 



RUTH'S CHOICE. 



The Book of Ruth does not preach by means of mighty deeds 
of war inspired by faith, but by acts of love which demand no 
less strength of soul. God can be praised not only with timbrels 
and trumpets, but also in quietness and silence. It is often 
easier to die for the faith than in the midst of men to live for it. 

Paulus Cassel. 



XXIV. 



RUTH'S CHOICE. 



And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from 
following after thee : for whither thou goest, I will go ; and 
where thou lodgest, I will lodge : thy people shall be my people, 
and thy God my God: where thou diest, will I die, and 
there will I be buried : the Lord do so to me, and more also, 
if aught but death part thee and ?ne. — Ruth i. 16, 17. 



HE Book of Ruth follows that of Judges because 



the scenes described here occurred during the 
reign of the judges. The opening sentence is, " Now 
it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, 
that there was a famine in the land." We have here 
a beautiful eclogue, or pastoral poem, superior to any 
that Virgil or Theocritus ever wrote, going back and 
telling us what happened during the reign of one of 
the judges. A family of Bethlehem, driven by famine, 
went to the East and settled in the country of Moab, 
on the east side of the Dead Sea'. So families nowa- 
days sometimes leave one locality for another, to better 
their fortunes. Moab lay in the way to Canaan, and 
the Israelites had to fight their way through that coun- 
try when they went up from Egypt. The Moabites 
and the Ammonites were descended from Lot ; they 
were idolaters, and, like the surrounding nations, hos- 
tile to the children of Israel. At this time, however, 




21 



322 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



the Moabites and the Israelites seem to have been at 
peace. The Book of Judges is a book of wars; the 
Book of Ruth is a book of peace. One is like the 
blasts of winter; the other is like the breath of spring. 
The family that left their home to dwell among the 
Moabites consisted of a father, mother, and two sons. 
They thought to better their estate, but fresh sorrows 
came. The father died, leaving his wife and sons 
alone. The sons, growing up, married daughters of 
the Moabites, who, as I said, were a foreign, hostile, 
and idolatrous people. Soon the sons die, and the 
family, now without husband or son, is composed of 
three widows, — the mother and her two daughters-in- 
law. We are ready to weep for Naomi when we think 
of her lonely condition, her husband and sons laid 
away in the grave, and she far from her early home 
and friends, among a strange people. At length she 
determines to return to the land of Israel, for she has 
heard that the Lord has visited His people in giving 
them bread. The two daughters-in-law accompany 
her as she starts on the journey. She urges them to 
turn back to the homes of their childhood and to re- 
main among their own people, Orpah is persuaded, 
but Ruth remains firm. It is a tender, tearful scene. 
They kissed, and lifted up their voice and wept, for 
they were never to meet again. After Orpah had 
turned away, Naomi said to Ruth, " Behold, thy sister 
in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her 
gods : return thou after thy sister in law." The ear- 
nest, decided reply of Ruth is given in the text, " In- 
treat me not to leave thee, or to return from following 
after thee," etc. 



RUTH'S CHOICE. 



323 



Having accompanied her mother-in-law into Judaea, 
Ruth becomes her solace and support, and at length 
marries Boaz, a rich kinsman of Naomi, and in this 
way, though of gentile and heathen stock, is brought 
into eminent connection with the people of God. 
From this marriage David descended, and through 
him our Saviour Jesus Christ. Both David and Jesus 
were born in the same Bethlehem from which Naomi 
and her husband, in the days of the judges, departed 
on account of the famine. The " House of Bread " 
had no bread then ; and that was the first link in a 
chain of providences that brought Ruth into the sacred 
chronology, and led on to make this the birthplace 
of her distinguished descendant David, and of Him 
whom David called Lord, though He was yet his Son, 
and Who declared Himself to be the Bread of God 
Which cometh down from heaven and giveth life unto 
the world. 

The story of Ruth is one of abiding interest. Says 
a recent commentator, " The little book of Ruth con- 
sists of only eighty-five verses; but these enclose a 
garden of roses as fragrant and full of mystic calyxes 
as those which the modern traveller still finds bloom- 
ing and twining about the solitary ruins of Israel and 
Moab, this side the Jordan and beyond. The signifi- 
cance and beauty of the brief narrative cannot be 
highly enough estimated, whether regard be had to 
the thought which fills it, the historical value which 
marks it, or the pure and charming form in which it 
is set forth. With good reason the book is not called 

* Naomi,' or ' Boaz,' or 'The Descent of David,' but 

• Ruth.' For she is the central point of the whole 



324 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



narrative. Her love is the groundwork of the history- 
it relates. That she became the ancestress of David 
was only the reward of her virtue. The idea to be 
set forth, and which gives such great significance to 
the little book, is the power of love as conquering all 
national contrarieties, hostilities, and prejudices. It 
is not a story of romantic love between man and wo- 
man, but of the reverential love of a widow for the 
mother of her deceased husband. The love portrayed 
in the character of Ruth is of the purest, most un- 
selfish, most extraordinary kind. In Boaz and Ruth, 
Israel and the Gentiles are, as it were, personified. 
In order to come under the wings of Israel, noth- 
ing is needed but the love and faith of Ruth. The 
book, it is often said, with its contents, stands at the 
portal of the history of David; according to its 
spirit, it stands like the Psalms at the gates of the 
Gospel." 

The character of Ruth impresses the universal heart. 
Painting and poetry have paid their homage to her. 
In galleries and parlors and places of resort the 
eye is ever meeting with pictures of the modest, 
sweet-faced woman gleaning in the field of Boaz. 
Wordsworth pays a beautiful tribute to the Book of 
Ruth. 

I think in noticing that scene when Orpah turned 
back, and Ruth still clave to her mother-in-law, 
leaving sister, relatives, and country, and saying, 
" Whither thou goest, I will go." we are impressed 
with these three traits, — Love, Purpose, Wisdom. An 
artist, in attempting to express the conflicting emo- 
tions, and to show the character in the face, would 



RUTH'S CHOICE. 



325 



make these shine out most conspicuously. Every 
womanly grace might claim a place there, but these 
should be the speaking traits. 

Love is said to be " strong as death ; . . . many waters 
cannot quench love; neither can the floods drown it." 
What is the Christian's watchword, motto, life, law, 
but love ? Love has knit the heart of Ruth to that of 
Naomi, and now you see its strength. Persuasion does 
not move her; ties to sister and friends in the land 
of her birth are not adequate ; poverty and ignorance 
of the people in the new country make no difference, 
— go she will. So delicate, timid women, under the 
power of love, have joined their fortunes to those 
who were going as missionaries to the heathen, and 
naught could restrain them from their high resolve. 
The happiest homes are forsaken, the dearest friends, 
the fairest country; trials innumerable are undergone, 
the heaviest tasks undertaken, sacrifices counted noth- 
ing, — it is the power of love ! Doubtless in the 
home of Naomi this love had been growing and 
strengthening from day to day. It was not an im- 
pulse ; if so, it could not have held out, — it was an 
ardent affection of the heart. How warm the lan- 
guage : " Where thou diest, will I die, and there will 
I be buried : the Lord do so to me, and more also, if 
aught but death part thee and me ! " 

Then observe how firm and determined the pur- 
pose. The resolution was as strong as the love. There 
is sometimes strong love with a weak will. Then 
the person wavers ; the heart inclines, but the motive 
power is gone. Ruth is fully persuaded; she has 
counted the cost, and what she says she intends to 



326 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



do. Thus we see exhibited the strongest elements 
of character, — love and purpose. Nor can the artist 
attempt any more difficult union of qualities. It 
might be easy to paint the hard, stern features of a 
Cavalier, or the dull, inexpressive look of fleshly love. 
A common hand could delineate the sensuality of 
a Henry the Eighth, or the cunning and hate of a 
Catherine de' Medici, — the perfidious woman who was 
the chief instigator of the massacre of St. Bartholo- 
mew. Human skill can represent sordid passions 
more easily than it can those that are spiritual and 
divine. It was the two traits mentioned that were 
most conspicuous in the Saviour, — love and pur- 
pose ; and hence you never see any picture or paint- 
ing of Him, from that of Raphael — who is said never 
to have had a rival in composition and expression — 
down to the latest effort of brush or pencil, that satis- 
fies the mind. It was a sign of progress when art 
forsook the insipid and sensual subjects of the Greek 
school, and found in the Holy Scriptures and in Chris- 
tian worship a better field for its exertions. As his- 
torical painting is more difficult, and is of a higher 
order than landscape painting, so the painting of 
characters like those of Ruth and the Saviour requires 
the highest skill. No wonder that all fail. The love 
must be gentle, womanly, tearful, yet stronger than 
death ; the purpose firm, invincible, robust, yet mingled 
with love. 

To perfect these traits there must be wisdom. The 
love must be a wise love ; the purpose a wise purpose. 
The more mind, the better the character and the 
better the picture. A loving look without intelli- 



RUTH'S CHOICE. 



327 



gence is flat; a wilful look without intelligence is 
brutal. Join love and purpose, and let soul, thought, 
reflection, understanding, beam through them, and 
you get the most perfect human face, — that which 
must have been Christ's, and must be the face of 
those who most resemble Him. We cannot for a 
moment think that Ruth was not influenced in her 
act by wisdom. She saw the difference between the 
two religions and between the character of Naomi 
and that of her own people. Besides, we must be- 
lieve the Spirit of God influenced her in her choice. 
That it was a wise choice, subsequent events proved. 
It led her to fortune and renown, brought her into 
the royal line, and made her one of the most eminent 
of women. Never could she have regretted her de- 
cision. Even when an humble gleaner in the family 
of Naomi, she was happy; and then when united to 
the wealthy Boaz, she had greater reason to thank 
God for the way in which she had been led. She 
could not have foreseen the honor to come to her in 
making her son the grandfather of David, and placing 
her in the lineage of Christ. She acted according to 
her best convictions, yielded to the power of love, 
chose God and His people for her portion, and turned 
her back on home and country; and it proved the 
right way. 

Dear friends, we have here brought to view the 
three grand traits that must inwrap themselves with 
your decisions for eternity. The human family may 
be said to be personified in Orpah and Ruth. The 
crisis of life is reached when the decision is made to 
go, or to return. Many are undecided, like Orpah, but 



328 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



at length turn back to their people and their gods. 
They choose this world and its portion, and never see 
the heavenly country. It is a question for each, Which 
of these types shall represent you? It is not said of 
Orpah that she was ill-natured, abusive, or unkind, — 
only that she preferred not to go ; and that is the fault 
with many of you. It may seem like leaving home, — 
a difficult, uncertain way, — and the future may appear 
very dark ; but if you will commit your ways to God, 
you will walk securely, and reach heaven at last. To 
fail of heaven, it is only necessary that you stay where 
you are. You are making the decision. So long as 
you do not personally, solemnly, and earnestly choose 
God and His people for your portion, you are Orpah, 
and not Ruth. 

The first grand requisite that you need is love, — to 
God and to man. Love is the fulfilling of the law; 
the ten commandments are summed up in this. Love 
is the displacement of self ; love is the enthronement 
of God in the soul. Love is queen of the graces; 
Faith and Hope wait on Love. When this principle 
pervades the soul, it will show itself in active ways. 
" If a man love Me, he will keep My words." It will 
show itself in obedience, submission, service. If you 
love God, you will pray: say you love God, and never 
pray? You will love the Bible: have a friend, and 
value not a letter from him? You will love the 
Church, love God's people, love to do good, love to 
give, love to help on God's cause in every way. Love 
will suppress anger, resentment, pride, impatience ; 
love will make you Christ-like. This is a grand pos- 
session, but it is not difficult of attainment. It is not 



RUTH'S CHOICE. 



329 



so much physical strength or mental power or earthly 
property; it is not such and such pilgrimages or 
tasks or forms that are required, — all that is asked 
is love. The poor man, the simple-minded, the little 
child, can love. 

Next, you must have purpose: you must employ 
your will. What an assertion of will was that of 
Ruth ! " Whither thou goest, I will go ; and where 
thou lodgest, I will lodge : thy people shall be my 
people, and thy God my God." You can never get 
to heaven if you do not will. Men do nothing if 
they do not will. The gospel cry is addressed to this 
faculty : " Whosoever will, let him come." Jesus 
charges the ruin of the soul to the will : " Ye will 
not come to Me, that ye may have life." If it were 
Ruth's purpose that you had, there would be no diffi- 
culty. When you rise from your indifference to say, 
" Thy people shall be My people," the question is 
settled, and you are going right. The great effort 
of all preaching is to induce men to make Ruth's 
choice. You simply say, " I will think about it ; I 
will decide this question by and by*" You feel the 
attachments to the country in which you are, and you 
are slow to respond to other appeals, or to assume 
obligations that involve such a change of purpose 
and life. 

Making this choice, it will be the choice of wisdom. 
It was wise in Ruth to choose God's people for her 
people ; it will be wise in you. No man ever did a 
wiser thing than to say in his inmost soul, " I am for 
God." The world you leave is vain, it does not 
satisfy ; it even disappoints, worries, and tortures. It 



33° 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



does not give rest; it has no balm for sorrows; it 
furnishes no permanent home. There is little reason 
why we should love it or wish to stay in it. But the 
heavenly country abounds with that which should 
attract us thither. The way is rough to reach it, but 
once there, we shall rejoice that we have come. We 
shall be crowned as kings, occupy the prepared man- 
sions, have the society of holy beings, and be eter- 
nally happy in the infinite love of God. Moab and 
Canaan are not so great a contrast as earth and 
heaven; Ruth's elevation is a feeble type of the far 
more exceeding and eternal weight of glory to which 
the believer shall by and by come. 

Dear Christian friends, we have left the Moab of 
this world, but are we not travelling alone? Shall we 
not induce our children and friends to go with us, and 
shall we not be a guide to those who may be pleased 
to accompany us? It would be an awful thing to 
mislead any pilgrims, or to discourage them from 
seeking the heavenly country. Possibly we are doing 
both. We ought to know whether our steps are di- 
rected aright. There are guide-boards and guide- 
books that show us the way, — the Israelites had even 
a pillar of cloud and of fire ; the angel of God's pres- 
ence saved them. And this presence and leadership 
we may enjoy. Are we marching to the heavenly 
Canaan? Can we say, "We are journeying unto the 
place of which the Lord said, I will give it you : 
come thou with us, and we will do thee good : for the 
Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel"? Are we 
inviting others to go, pressing them to go, influen- 
cing them to go, and showing them the way? Our 



RUTH'S CHOICE. 



331 



character and life ought to be such that they will be 
attracted to our company, that even if pressed and 
drawn in the opposite direction they will still say, 
1 " We will go with you." We must not repel, we must 
draw. We must have so much of kind-heartedness, 
cordial interest, and good cheer that people shall love 
to walk where we walk. What Naomi was to Ruth, 
that we must be to the unconverted around us, — draw 
them with the cords of a man, bind them with the 
bands of love. We must make our company so pleas- 
ant that others who look in upon us shall wish to 
sojourn with us, that men who witness our walk shall 
say, " We will go with you." I mean not that by 
outward garniture or temporary expedients we should 
draw. These are well enough ; but the real magnet- 
ism of a church is in the piety of the people : it is 
love that draws. Embellishments upon a dead church 
are like paint upon a corpse: the life is not there. 
Exterior prosperity is no evidence of a sound heart 
or of real fruitfulness. What is wanted is the inter- 
penetrating love of Christ: the nearer we get to the 
Saviour, the more will His gospel become a power 
among the people. It was not grandeur, wealth, or 
fine prospects, that drew Ruth ; it was not the popular 
voice or gay company: it was love. Naomi's char- 
acter won ; Naomi's guidance was safe ; Naomi's God 
was the true God. " Call me not Naomi," said the 
mother-in-law to her friends, " call me Mara," — call 
me not Pleasant, call me Bitter, — " for the Almighty 
hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and 
the Lord hath brought me home again empty." But 
that emptiness was antecedent to the highest pros- 



332 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



perity and joy. So in our lowliest state we may sup- 
ply the conditions of the highest usefulness, happiness, 
and power. There is a conjecture that the name Ruth 
means Rose.. The Ancient Church represented Ruth 
pictorially with a sheaf in her hand. Both rose and 
sheaf are symbols signifying that Love is the attractive 
principle, the crowning grace, and reminding us of 
that Divine assurance, " He that goeth forth and 
weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come 
again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." 



CREATED UNTO GOOD WORKS. 



That for which each thing is created, it does without law and 
compulsion. The sun shines by nature unbidden ; the pear-tree 
bears of itself voluntarily ; three and seven ought not to be ten, 
they are ten already. There is no need that one should say to 
God, He should do good, for He does all the time willingly and 
gladly of Himself. So. too, one should not command the right- 
eous man that he should do good works, for he does them with- 
out this, — without command and compulsion, — because he is a 
new creature and a good tree. 

Martin Luther. 



XXV. 



CREATED UNTO GOOD WORKS. 



For we are His workmanship, ci'eated in Christ Jesus unto good 
works, which God hath before ordai?ied that we should walk 
in them. — Eph. ii. 10. 



'HERE is a seeming conflict between the Apostles 



Paul and James. The one lays emphasis upon 
faith; the other upon works. Yet both Paul and 
James are right. The text, " The just shall live by 
faith," expresses truth in equilibrio. It is like a bal- 
ance, "just" being in one scale, and "faith" in the 
other; or it is like a see-saw, James being at one end, 
and Paul at the other. If James emphasizes " just," 
his side preponderates ; if Paul emphasizes " faith," 
his side goes down. But neither claims entirety to 
himself; each is essential to the other. We mistake 
if we think faith is all. Paul believed in works. It is 
his words that we have chosen for the text. He says, 
" We are created in Christ Jesus unto good works." 
James is right when he says, " Faith without works is 
dead, being alone." Works prove faith. You say 
that a tree is alive because with the breath of spring 
its buds have begun to swell and the leaves are start- 
ing out When it is full of blossoms, full-leaved, or 
heavy with fruit, you call it a vigorous tree, it gives 




336 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



such evidence of life. So the Christian is fullest of 
faith when his life is most abundant of works ; that is, 
if the works are not spurious, false, or feigned. You 
may, by covering a tree with verdure, make it look 
alive, when it is only a dead trunk mantled by a living 
vine. Or you may take a piece of timber and over- 
spread it with tasteful decorations ; but there is no life 
there. So when there is a sapless piety you some- 
times see an appearance of life; but it is a life put 
on. You have only to wait for keen frosts or scorch- 
ing heat to show the death within. 

Now, the Scriptures insist on works as the evidence 
of faith. m The object of our conversion is not simply 
to get us to heaven, but to bring into observation the 
reality, substance, proofs, and characteristics of a holy 
life. As the text says, " We are created in Christ 
Jesus unto good works." We are " chosen, that we 
should be holy and without blame." " Ye have not 
chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, 
that ye should go and bring forth fruit." " Herein is 
My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit." We 
must get rid of the delusion that we are called into the 
Church as into a house of rest. We are called to be 
holy ; we are created unto good works. When a man 
is converted, he enters on a life-service. If he thinks 
now he is safe, heaven is sure, and he may live as he 
pleases, it shows that he is not converted. If a person 
enters into your service, your thought is not that he 
has come to eat of your bread and enjoy your home, 
but to do your work. When a soldier enlists, it is not 
to put a feather in his hat and dress gayly, but to go 
out and fight, and if need be, die. So we are servants, 



CREATED UNTO GOOD WORKS. 337 

laborers, soldiers. The charge that we receive is, 
" Go, work ; " " Endure hardness as a good soldier." 
This is the law. And then we have illustrations. 
Every sincere Christian is a worker. Paul was a 
worker. The works that he denounced were those 
legal, moral works that are sometimes substituted for 
faith. But the works that grow out of faith he 
preached and performed. He could say of himself, 
- In labors more abundant." So the blessed Master 
was a Man of works. He said, " I must work the 
works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night 
cometh, when no man can work." We have become 
accustomed to regard this as a law of Christian life, 
and even seek to rouse ourselves to activity — as sol- 
diers kindle their enthusiasm by some battle-song — 
by putting into our Psalmody such hymns as, " Work, 
for the night is coming;" "Am I a soldier of the 
cross?" " Stand up, stand up for Jesus." Now, it 
may be that a theme so trite and that suggests labor 
is a burden in itself. You sigh, and say, " What more 
can I do? " Some of you are laborious, and you will 
be blessed ; you are blessed, and you will be more 
blessed when those words are spoken, " Well done ! " 
We should be thankful that the Church is a hive in 
which there are to be no drones. We should find 
comfort, too, in the thought that " Rest comes sure 
and soon." To the faithful, then, I say, "Toil on." 
If you grow weary in the work, be not weary of it. 
" In due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Still, 
it is possible that we are not as laborious as we ought 
to be, nor will a bustling activity in some things 
excuse neglect in others. 

22 



338 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



Let us look for a moment at the Work. This is as 
broad as Christian experience and human sympathy 
and love. If one is disposed, he will find much to do 
in self-culture. Then there is the family, the Church, 
and society. In all these fields we must toil ; nor in 
one to the neglect of another. A proportionate labor 
in each produces the best-developed piety. I must not 
spend so much time abroad as to neglect my heart. I 
must see that my own soul is fed, or L shall soon have 
no strength to labor. Again, if I have a family, there 
are duties which no other can discharge. There is a 
vast amount of work in that little field of home; if we 
neglect our children, or let our home suffer, it will 
hardly compensate that we were very busy and very 
useful in other departments of labor. Then there is 
the Church, with its many calls, — meetings to be at- 
tended, services to be rendered, gifts to be bestowed. 
Society also has its claims. No man or woman has a 
right to become a hermit or a recluse. Only sickness 
should be a sufficient excuse for not mingling with 
others, showing kindness, welcoming the stranger, and 
cementing friendly bonds. Nor is work all activity. 
An obedient and a holy life may have much in it of 
quietness. When the Father's hand is upon us, it is a 
great thing to submit. When He says, " Be patient," 
or " Stand still," it is a great thing to obey. The 
greatest work may not be that which shows itself in 
heaped-up labors, but in the gentle readiness with 
which the bitter cup is drank, or the quiet steadiness 
with which the patient sufferer waits upon God. It is 
a pleasant service sometimes to run for the Master; it 
is a harder task simply to stand and wait. The feeble, 



CREATED UNTO GOOD WORKS. 339 

stricken child of God, on a bed of languishing, may 
feel that it is a poor service that he is rendering; but 
the kind Master values it more than days of toil. 
There is sometimes a disposition to inquire what we 
can do for the Master. We think we are willing to 
work, but we know not what to do. Our faith wants 
its outlets, and we wait to know what we can perform. 
But perhaps we want to do some great thing; we see 
the skilled laborers, and we are but little children. 
Let us be content to do the little things ; let us, if the 
Master orders, simply stand and wait. But let us not be 
waiting unless we have a positive charge ; let us, rather 
than be idle, take any service, however humble and 
small. It is not opportunities, but disposition, that we 
need. If it is nothing more, " let us gather up the 
sunbeams that lie around our path." If it is only love 
to men that we have, our name, like another Abou Ben 
Adhem, may lead all the rest. It is not the great things 
that are wanted, — but few can do the great things ; 
it is those little common things that lie near to all. 

" If you cannot speak like angels, 

If you cannot preach like Paul, 
You can tell the love of Jesus, 

You can say He died for all. 
If you cannot rouse the wicked 

With the Judgment's dread alarms, 
You can lead the little children 

To the Saviour's waiting arms." 

By way of fixing this subject of work in the mind, 
let me take the letters of the word, as an acrostic, and 
suggest for what each letter stands. This will show 
us the spirit in which we should work. 



34Q 



BELIEVING AND DOING, 



W stands for willingly. If God loves a cheerful 
giver, so He loves a cheerful worker. You like a 
cheerful worker. You want no one near you who 
goes sour and moping to his task. And what we do 
for the Master, we must do with gladness and a song. 
His service is not a painful service. And then we have 
His presence to encourage and His hand to help. 
" Cheerful workers ! " What other sort of workers 
ought any to be? The Master Whom "we serve is very 
kind, the work is very pleasant, and the wages are very 
good. It is unreasonable if we work reluctantly, or 
act like slaves scourged to a forbidding and ill-requi- 
ted task. The service of Christ, from beginning to 
end, is a willing service. He calls for laborers, but 
He forces none ; there is no impressment, no seizure, 
no compulsion. We are to " choose whom we will 
serve," and then, in the vineyard, are to work as if we 
liked to be there ; not only not idle, but happy in our 
work. We grieve the Master, discourage others, and 
injure ourselves, if we act as if living and laboring for 
Christ were drudgery. Was it drudgery for Paul? 
Was it drudgery for the men that have died for Christ? 
What is the testimony from mission-fields and martyr 
stakes, but that it is a blessed service, abundant of 
recompense and full of joy. 

O stands for orderly. There are methods and ends 
in work. Everything should be done " decently and in 
order." We should know how to " behave ourselves 
in the house of God." Work has its departments, 
its correspondent duties, its diversity in oneness. We 
are not to do other men's work ; we are not to be busy 
here and there. We may work hard, and yet do but 



CREATED UNTO GOOD WORKS. 



341 



little, or hinder others, or positively undo. Yonder is 
a factory full of workers ; yet there is no confusion, 
interruption, or disorder, for each keeps in his own 
place, and has just a certain piece of work to do. 
There are scores of processes to produce a needle or 
a pin ; from hand to hand it passes through stage after 
stage of labor, till at length it is brought to its per- 
fected form. I recall a dental establishment in a large 
city. The building was large, and it was filled with 
workers. From the basement to the highest story 
it was work, work, work. Every conceivable thing 
needed in the profession was there, prepared or rep- 
resented. On the lowest floor was the engine, with 
its glowing fires and powerful wheels. Here the rock 
quartz was crushed to an impalpable paste ; there the 
ovens, hot as Nebuchadnezzar's furnace, did their work 
on the articles received. Yonder were the furnaces 
where were cast all the implements of the trade ; here 
men were attending to the construction of plates, the 
preparation of substances, the moulding of forms. 
One floor was wholly occupied by women, who deli- 
cately arranged the articles for their fiery ordeal, pla- 
cing them on porcelain plates that were slid into an 
immense oven. And what was striking here, was that 
each operative was obliged to connect her name with 
the work that the fire was to test. If there was any 
defect, the fire would show at whose door the fault lay. 
Such, I thought, is the Church. Not only is the fire 
to try every man's work, of what sort it is, but each 
has a special work to do. There is no getting on, only 
as we do what is assigned to us severally to do. If 
we jostle one another, or all try to do the same work, 



342 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



or quarrel and interfere, there will not be much work 
done. 

R stands for regularly. Some persons have their 
paroxysms. They are good workers, but they work 
only for a time. They are restless and uneasy, fickle 
and changeable, off and on, and so their doing comes 
to naught. The only piety of which these persons 
seem to have any knowledge is that associated with 
excitement and impulse. While the excitement lasts, 
they do well ; but the excitement does not last. Some 
men are constitutionally unsteady, they stick to noth- 
ing; and hence it is not to be expected that their 
piety will be constant and firm. Some are dependent 
on the state of things around them ; they need a fresh 
breeze and a clear sky. When it is dark they are 
dark ; there is no faith or hope to work and wait for 
the morning. Others will work while the rest work ; 
instead of doing more because some are discouraged 
or are idle, they do less. And so it comes to pass 
that there is a great deal of irregularity in our methods 
of toil. We are now on the mount, and now in the 
vale. It is now a gallop and a bound, and now snail- 
crawling and slow progress. A revival comes, and 
things go well. But soon there is a falling off ; forms 
that were seen in the congregation are seen no more ; 
voices that were heard in the prayer-meeting are heard 
no more ; work that was undertaken with zest is now 
abandoned ; the family altar was reared, but it is now 
a ruin. Of course it is impossible to be perfectly regu- 
lar and steady in all our church work, — sickness or 
changes will interrupt; but we need not therefore jus- 
tify a fickle and volatile piety. " Unstable as water, 



CREATED UNTO GOOD WORKS. 343 



thou shaltnot excel; " and if we do not have a piety 
of principle, and are not constant and true, our work, 
if it be work, will be of little avail. Let us not forget 
that R in the word work ! 

K stands for knowingly. We need to know what to 
do, and how to do it. If we are willing, and ask with 
Paul, "What wilt Thou have me to do?" the Lord 
will show us work enough ; and then if we seek the 
wisdom that we need, He will make us intelligent and 
efficient workers. There is work for all, as I suggested, 
— in respect to ourselves, the family, the Church, and 
society. Be sure that you are willing to work, and 
then inquire what you shall do. If you are not filling 
up all your time, if you are not as useful as you might 
be, report to those who can give you work, or look up 
work for yourself; be intent on doing something; put 
yourself where your services shall find opportunity and 
sphere. And then when employed, it is important to 
be intelligently active. There is a zeal not according 
to knowledge. What wisdom do parents need to train 
their children aright! How intelligent should Sab- 
bath-school teachers be, rightly to expound the Word 
of God ! What a knowledge of human nature should 
every Christian possess to give him influence, and ena- 
ble him to say and do the right thing ! Some church 
members seem reckless of consequences, on the plea 
that they are very active ; but Christ told His disciples 
to " be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." It is 
a good thing to be a worker, but it is better to be an 
intelligent worker. We need to see that our labor 
contributes to the general good ; that we are not inter- 
fering with or hindering others ; that what we do is 
what is needed, and is done well. 



344 



BELIEVING AND DOING. 



Thus in the word Work we get hints as to the man- 
ner in which our labors should be performed : W — 
Willingly ; — Orderly ; R — Regularly ; K — Know- 
ingly. 

My friends, let me charge you to remember that 
there is no time for trifling here. " Go work," is the 
command, — "work to-day; for the night cometh." 
With some it is high noon, or the shadows are length- 
ening. How does your work get on?. What are you 
doing for the Master? What fruit can you show? 
It is not what do men think of you, what plaudits do 
you win, or how much of a sensation and stir are you 
making in the world. No, no ; but what blessed influ- 
ence are you exerting, and what ineffaceable impres- 
sions making upon the hearts of men? Soon we shall 
be gone; but our works shall follow us, here and in 
eternity. Our names may perish, but our deeds shall 
live on. 

" He who ploughed and who sowed is not missed by the reaper ; 

He is only remembered by what he has done. 
Not myself, but the truth that in life I have spoken, 

Not myself, but the seed that in life I have sown, 
Shall pass on to ages ; all about me forgotten, 

Save the truth I have spoken, the things I have done. 
So let my living be, so be my dying, 

So let my name be unblazoned, unknown. 
Unpraised and unmissed, I shall still be remembered ; 

Yes, but remembered by what I have done." 

Are there not some here who are willing to work 
for Christ who have not as yet engaged in His service? 
Christ calls you ; His charge is, " Go work to day in 
My vineyard." He asks in amazement, " Why stand 
ye here all the day idle? " There is much work to be 



CREATED UNTO GOOD WORKS. 



345 



done, and the Church needs your aid. You must not 
think it is enough to stand out of the way of others. 
You may be in the way ; you may keep others from 
Christ by not coming yourself. But if you are in no- 
body's way, is that enough? If there is a fire to be 
extinguished, and you keep out of the way, is that 
enough ? If there is a life to be saved, and you 
do not hinder another's saving it, have you done 
your whole duty ? What is wanted is, that you come 
into the Church and help it on. It is not for you to 
say what you can and what you cannot do. The Mas- 
ter calls, and you must obey. He will see that you 
are not overtaxed, and He will accept your feeblest 
efforts. He will help you if your task seems hard, 
and He will make your labors a joy to yourself and 
a blessing to others. More, He will give you a special 
reward. See, this is what He says : " Go ye also into 
the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you." 
Moreover an Apostle exhorts, " Therefore, my beloved 
brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abound- 
ing in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know 
that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." No one 
is asking you to work without pay; Jesus promises 
it, — and it is the best possible that was ever given. 
Will you, then, enter this service? Here is the vine- 
yard ; here is a place for you. Come ! For Christ's 
sake, for others' sake, for your own sake, do as God 
commands. 



THE END. 



Deacidified using the Bookkeeper process. 
Neutralizing agent: Magnesium Oxide 
Treatment Date: May 2006 

PreservationTechnologies 

A WORLD LEADER IN PAPER PRESERVATION 

1 1 1 Thomson Park Drive 
Cranberry Township, PA 16066 
(724) 779-2111